Basseterre, St. Kitts – Plea negotiations are likely to enter the criminal justice system in St. Kitts and Nevis as part of key reforms designed to improve efficiency and effectiveness in the legal administrative system.
Attorney-General and Minister of Justice and Legal Affairs, the Honourable Garth Wilkin, said that plea negotiations will allow defendants to plead guilty to an offence in exchange for a lower charge or sentence.“That has proven quite successful in Jamaica,” said the attorney-general, while appearing on the November 22, 2023, edition of InFocus. He noted that plea agreements offer greater choice to a prosecutor.“
The Director of Public Prosecution (DPP), who is the sole decision maker Constitutionally in the process, can say… justice is served if this person serves five years. He doesn’t make that decision on his own, he also then talks to the victim, because the victim is an integral part of the process,” the attorney general noted.
Additionally, plea agreements can be used to offer a co-accused a lesser charge in exchange for giving evidence to the state.
“For instance, the driver in a drive-by [shooting], you can say listen, you are a co-conspirator, are you willing to give evidence that will help to prosecute the actual perpetrator of the shooting? That will help to speed up the process because if you take the co-conspirator out of the process, it speeds up the time for persons to go after the other conspirator,” Attorney-General Wilkin explained.
AG Wilkin added that plea agreements will help to ensure a swift resolution to matters which, will be beneficial to families seeking justice as the average time for cases to be brought before the Court is three to four years.