Golding tables ganja Bill in Senate

Golding tables ganja Bill in Senate

BY BALFORD HENRY Observer senior staff reporter

Sunday, June 29, 2014

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MINISTER of Justice, Senator Mark Golding, finally tabled the much-anticipated Bill proposing the automatic expungement of convictions for certain minor ganja- related offences in the Senate on Friday.

The Bill also provides that conviction for a minor offence of ganja possession, which involves a fine of $1000 (or such other amount as may be prescribed), or for smoking ganja, shall not be entered into the criminal record of the offender.

The bill, officially titled An Act to Amend the Criminal Records (Rehabilitation of Offenders), and which has been several years in the making, will amend the current provisions for expungement which, essentially, means a conviction removed from one's criminal/police record after a specific period of time has elapsed, and after certain requirements have been met.

The principle underlying this provision is that a person who has made a sincere and successful attempt to live down a conviction should be given the opportunity to start afresh without being haunted by an unfortunate past.

The Bill increases from three to five years the term of imprisonment which a sentence by the court must not exceed, in order for the offender to qualify for expungement. It will abolish additional rehabilitation periods leading up to expungement, and fix the rehabilitation period for persons who are 18 and older.

It also provides that qualified offenders are to be regarded as "rehabilitated", after ending their period of rehabilitation without re-offending, and their convictions are considered to be spent. Where the conviction is spent, the offender cannot, for most purposes, be required to disclose the spent conviction and cannot be prejudiced by it.

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