Withdrawal of charges, reduction of sentences as Guyana introduces modern Plea Bargaining Legislation 


A first-of-its-kind Plea Discussion and Plea Agreement Bill, otherwise called the Plea Bargaining Bill, has been drafted in Guyana and will make its way to Parliament soon.

Once in place, it will allow the prosecution and defence in criminal cases to reach agreements before a guilty verdict is handed down. Once the accused agrees to plead guilty and offer valuable information to the State, the accused will receive a reduction in their sentences or an altogether withdrawal of the charges.

Attorney General, Anil Nandlall, SC, on Tuesday, boasted that the draft legislation is one of the most modern laws of its kind in the region. He believes it will help to bring greater speed to the judicial system and criminal legal process.

“It will reduce backlogs and save resources while at the same time maintaining an acceptable, just and fair legal regime of sanctions and penalties to be imposed when criminal wrongs are committed,” Nandlall said, reminding that this system has worked for many years throughout the Caribbean, United States and the Commonwealth.

“We have reviewed the examples which exist in the Caribbean and fashioned our Bill in accordance with what exists and added more advanced concepts and processes to make it the most modern expression of law in the region,” the AG added.

Even before a charge is instituted or after, the bill alows for the prosecution and defence to sit and work out an acceptable plea arrangement.

“This is required in this modern age,” the AG said.

Attorney General Anil Nandlall, SC along with other Guyanese lawyers.

This Bill received input from consultations with the Director of Public Prosecutions, the Guyana Police Force, and the Judiciary. Nandlall noted that the local practising bar was also engaged along with the Police Legal Advisor and the Guyana Law Reform Commission.

This Bill is now ready for Parliament following the approval of the Cabinet. The permission of the DPP will be required before any plea agreement is entered into.

It should be noted that the Bill addresses the attempt to persuade the accused person or suspect to plead guilty notwithstanding the accused person’s or suspect’s denial of guilt and amounts to improper inducement.

Once in place, the legislation applies to both summary and indictable offences and does not affect the right of an accused person to plead guilty without entering into a plea agreement or their right to seek a sentence indication from the Court of the maximum sentence that the Court may impose if the accused pleads guilty to an offence.

Under plea agreements, there can be an undertaking not to institute charges against family members or friends of the accused person; a promise to proceed summarily rather than indictable and a recommendation to the Court that the record of the plea discussion and the plea agreement be sealed.

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