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Proposed Cautions Bill heading to LA

Legislation aimed at not only reducing the backlog of cases in court, but giving repentant offenders a much needed second chance heads to the LA.
The Cautions Bill is expected to be among the growing number of bills on the lawmakers’ agenda. As attorney Richard Barton explains, it gives Police authority to issue cautions instead of charges for minor offences.
“I am someone who welcomes this legislation because it will give someone a second chance,” Mr Barton said.

He says approving the Cautions Bill even though it could affect his and other defence attorneys’ bottom line by reducing clients heading to court. But at the same time he says “we have to be proportionate in our sanctions and to register a cautions is not a bad idea.”

Under the proposed law police can caution first time offenders or offenders who’ve been crime free for three years for minor offences like stealing or having ganja for personal use as happens in some court cases.

“So why not in this instance say to them well you have been cautioned do the right thing you have been caught red-handed, never do it again. For some people that’s all they need to turn it around,” he said

While the law applies to small quantities of ganja. The defence attorney says it’s not a de-facto decriminalisation of the drug.

“There must be an acceptance that he now has a discretion not to send you to court that to me is a relaxation.

That relaxation being the present penalties relating to marijuana offences.

These changes are yet to be approved by Parliament. It’s expected the Cautions Bill will be debated during the next meeting of the LA scheduled for Wednesday morning.

About the author

Reshma Ragoonath

Reshma Ragoonath

Reshma Ragoonath is a Trinidadian journalist with 18 years media experience with a strong background in print with her most recent stint at The Cayman Reporter. She has a BA in Mass Communications, as well as, an Associate degree in Journalism and Public Relations.

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