DEAR MRS MACAULAY,
I am a Jamaican who was convicted for importation of dangerous drugs in the Commonwealth of the Bahamas in 2001. I was sentenced to two years in prison. In 2011 I applied for a police record in The Bahamas and I got a clean record. But Jamaica, my country of birth, is still holding it against me. I can't get a job, and each time I apply for a job my record stops me from getting it. I have all the documents from the Bahamian government that I need to start a new life, but my country Jamaica is just not giving me a chance. All I need is my record to be clean so I can take care of my family. Please advise me on what to do. I am stressed and depressed.
It is so unfortunate that at the time you applied for a police record in The Bahamas you did not also apply for one from the Jamaican police records office. Your conviction would have been entered in the records of your country of birth, which would have been informed of such under the Dangerous Drugs Act in The Bahamas. Had you applied then, in 2011, you would have been doing so in the 10th year after your conviction, and this was the prescribed rehabilitation period in the Criminal Records(Rehabilitation of Offenders) Act 1988. The Act stated that the prescribed rehabilitation period for those sentenced to more than 18 months but not more than three years was 10 years.
So you could have applied in Jamaica at the expiration of 10 years for your record here to be expunged in 2011 or 2012. Anyway, on October 2, 2014, the Criminal Records (Rehabilitation of Offenders(Amendment) Act 2014 came into force. This Act states that the prescribed rehabilitation period for your length of sentence of two years, should be seven years. This amending Act also stated that the 1988 Act as amended by the Amending Act, should apply to convictions which occurred before the Amending Act was passed. This places you in this category and so, your prescribed period became seven years. This is however only if your conviction did not fall within the sections of the provisions of the Jamaican Dangerous Drugs Act, which are listed in the third schedule of the 2014 Act as offences which may not be expunged. This Act also excludes offences which fall within section 7C (2) when the weight is as stated in the sub-section or less, from being recorded in the criminal record of an offender. The minister has the power to fix other amounts, other than the two ounces (0.057kg) which is stated in the section.
Your prescribed rehabilitation period, if you fall within the said section 7C(2), has long ago been met and you have had years following the conviction in 2001, wherein you have had no other convictions.
You have to therefore apply for your criminal record and when you have it, it will show you what section of the Act applied to your offence. If it does not, then you must apply for the full particulars of your conviction from the court which convicted you in the Bahamas. This will then inform you whether you can apply for your record to be expunged under the Act.
Since you did not give me the specifics of the offence, especially regarding the specific drug and the weight of it, I cannot make any comment to you about your chances in this regard. If you do fall within the categories of those who can apply, you would probably need the assistance of a lawyer here to assist you and you will need to send that person all the relevant information for the application to be made.
If you cannot get through because the weight of the drugs you were convicted for exceeds two ounces of ganja and you fall within one of the other sections which excludes you from those whose convictions can be expunged, then the only other means which you have would be for you to apply for a pardon to be granted to you by the Governor General's Privy Council.
I wish you success, so that you can proceed with your plans for your new start to your life in the country of your choice.
Margarette May Macaulay is an attorney-at-law, Supreme Court mediator, notary public, and women's and children's rights advocate. Send questions via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org; or write to All Woman, 40-42 1/2 Beechwood Avenue, Kingston 5. All responses are published. Mrs Macaulay cannot provide personal responses.
The contents of this article are for informational purposes only, and must not be relied upon as an alternative to legal advice from your own attorney.