Conviction rate jumps eight percent over previous year

Conviction rate jumps eight percent over previous year
Attorney General Carl Bethel

NASSAU, BAHAMAS – The Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions has seen an improved overall conviction rate from 70 percent in 2018 to 78 percent in 2019, according to Attorney General Carl Bethel.

Bethel was addressing a room full a legal professional during a special sitting for the opening of the 2020 legal year.

He reveled that of the 529 scheduled trials, roughly 28 percent were completed, noting that, “We must do better than that”.

Of the 132 trials completed, 103 resulted in convictions and 29 resulted in acquittals, which represented the over improved conviction rate.

Additionally, of the scheduled cases, 36.67 percent were served with a Voluntary Bill of Indictment (VBI) thereby fast tracking the matter to the Supreme Court.

“It should also be noted that the average time for an individual to be served with a VBI is now an average of two months, which a significant improvement because it also contributes to reducing time, particularly for serious matters to come before the Supreme Court,” Bethel said.

“However, it is clear that we must work, My Lord chief justice, on the extent to which we can  improve the delivery of justice, by ensuring that we can begin to truly prevent the continued growth of the backlog, by being able to dispose of more cases in a timely matter during the course of the year.”

“That’s something I would have seen your instructions on and my job is merely to assist you.”

Bethel also announced yesterday that the Electronic Bail Management and Reporting system is now ready for go, with all necessary electronic registration Kiosks being installed in police stations, the Department of Corrections and the Supreme Court’s criminal registry.

“This system will also allow unrepresented defendants to lodge their own applications for bail,” he said.

“It will eliminate many of the errors and inefficiencies in the present reporting system for accused persons and we trust they will lead to the improvement of the administration of justice.”

The government tabled a bill to amend the Bail Act last month, that if passed, would once again give magistrates the power to grant bail in various drug and firearm related offenses that they are unable to now.

The attorney general committed that that government will move expeditiously on the passing of the bill within the first quarter of the year.