Court of appeal upholds marijuana conviction

courtSome are successful and shed tears of joy, others leave sad and disappointed when their appeal is either upheld or dismissed at the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court of Appeal now meeting in Dominica.

Some cases are upheld with light variations, with a matter involving Kerval Jno Baptiste being an example.

Jno Baptiste now has six months to obtain a $75,000 fine imposed on him by the court. If he cannot find that money he will be spending six months behind bars.

Jno Baptiste’s case goes way back to October 2010 when he was convicted for the possession of 39,138 grams of marijuana. He was fined $75,000 and given three months to pay up or spend 18 months in jail.

Court reports indicate he was arrested by the police after his bus was stopped and searched on the way to Portsmouth. The illegal substance was found concealed at the bottom of food bags in the bus. He told the police that the bags were given to him by someone called “Sammuel.” He said he did not know the person and was only doing an errand for which he was being paid $80.

The sentence was appealed with attorney, Lennox Lawrence, arguing before the court that when the sentence was imposed, the magistrate failed to consider, among other things, that Jno Baptiste was a first time offender and whether there were any mitigating and aggravating issues involved.

He stated that the sentence was harsh and excessive and the 18-month default payment was beyond the jurisdiction of the magistrate who had ‘erred in law.’

But state attorney in the office of the DPP, Sherma Dalrymple told the appeal court that the sentence was not excessive and the fine was okay.

She stated that Jno Baptiste actually got a 50 percent discount on the fine since the maximum penalty for the offense is $150,000 or six months in jail.

In handing down the decision on the matter Justice of Appeal, Mario Michel, dismissed all grounds of the appeal stating that the magistrate properly convicted Jno Baptiste based on evidence.

“We are of the view that he carried a substance knowing that it was a controlled drug,” he said. “The court does not consider the fine as excessive since it is consistent with being a first time offender. In the circumstances the appeal is dismissed; the fine of $75,000 remains but is varied and must be paid within six months of today’s date ( Thursday, March 27) or in default six months in jail.”

The court also noted that it has been four years since Jno Baptiste was convicted and it hopes that he has the fine ready to be paid.

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  1. Looking in
    March 30, 2014

    Padna, whether you knew or not, you found yourself in a tough spot. Save your $75,000 and go to stock farm for six months and live off tax payers money. When you come out, you will still have your money and can invest it wisely. Live and learn.

  2. Pestle
    March 29, 2014

    I taking the 6mths jail instead eh!! All that money and just 6mths jail

  3. RastarMarn
    March 29, 2014

    Garcon you will never win in any of them Courts,,,

    They are Fictitious and made thereby Arbitrary rules at some dudes’ will,,,

    You see Lennox didnt go for a total acquittal but a reduction in Charge because it was an alleged first offense,,,

    Mista dem know people always give people to take tings for people so dey juss giving you the shaft,,,

    This is the Deal: Court is insolvent, decedent and only exist in contemplation of some arbitrary rule(s) some Bar guys decided to create for unjust enrichment,,,

    • Simply the Truth
      March 29, 2014

      Since you appear to be an expert and have all the answers, even offering advice, why do you not study Law? With your type of argument, the Court, if not Dominica, would go bankrupt.

  4. native son
    March 28, 2014

    we are living 1n 2014 marijuana is no longer a bid deal WAKE UP people.

    • Simply the Truth
      March 29, 2014

      Keep in mind Dominica is a small country. I would not advocate marijuana and making it legal. Too many people would go about looking like they are under the influence. Think of their brains and what will happen to them and their memory. Live and let live. Let the Law handle this for the good of Dominica and nationals.

  5. Washit
    March 28, 2014

    Sell three bags per week and pay de fine. :lol:

  6. March 28, 2014

    8-O :roll: :(

  7. bomboclat
    March 28, 2014

    I would take the jail instead wii papa. 6 months is not nothing.

  8. Tri-State Beauty
    March 28, 2014

    I taking the 6 months jail, i.e 3 months not a fork all I giving any damn court 75,000 for ganja! let me go smoke my damn spliff tan. stay there still, meantime cocaine running a mock and crack in the bloody country.

  9. MS
    March 28, 2014

    $75,000 is a very harsh fine for marijuana, a herb that God grows freely and will hurt no one unless they abuse it. I would take the 6 months in prison. Dominica don’t get left behind in legalizing the herb and enjoying the financial benefits. Marijuana is used to make several medication and with continued research It’s going to make more. Don’t think about the negative sides only. Any drug if abused has negative effects. Herb is the healing of the nation.

  10. Gary
    March 28, 2014

    “The lawless science of our law,That codeless myriad of precedent That wilderness of single instances” -Alfred, Lord Tennyson.“Woe unto you, lawyers! For ye have taken away
    the key of knowledge: ye entered not in yourselves,
    and them that were entering in ye hindered.” — Luke. 11: 52

    This case demonstrates all the hocus-pocus of what is called The Law.Why should Mr. Jno Baptiste’s have to pay a lawyer to plead to a Magistrate that he was a first time offender and whether there were any mitigating and aggravating issues involved.Why pay a middle man called a Lawyer to do such thing, couldn’t Mr. Jno Baptiste’s say it himself, which to me is more genuine.I guess when we go to court we are wards of the Court.How the Magistrate came up with the figure of $75,000 to fine Mr Jno Baptiste’s,that is what I call hocus-pocus.

  11. John Jay
    March 28, 2014

    On whose side is Lennox Lawrence blowing sometimes for the govt. and against can’t understand these guy probably because the defendant is from Portsmouth.

  12. HandUp
    March 28, 2014

    $75,000 fine. You cannot pay? Go to jail. Six months goes by fast. Neither do I condemn you. Learn your lesson and do it no more. Complete turn around and choose GOD over fast cash.

  13. Usual Suspect
    March 28, 2014

    All i can say bro is that you are already convicted, the 75k can buy you a bus take your jail instead.

    I hope that when certain friends of certain people at the dpp office get fined that it would not be excessive.

    Cocaine not going to court but marijuana going jail……

  14. Point of View
    March 28, 2014

    That is a wicked judgment. Bus drivers are always called to do these errands and sometimes you pay them a tip. That was not his fault as it is not right that he search the customers bag before accepting them for delivery. That could have been an innocent mistake. Brutal.

    • Washit
      March 28, 2014

      Drop this over there for me please; I’ll pay you. “No problem.”

    • BEB
      March 29, 2014

      So u believe his story, when he said that some one gave him the bag? That was his defense but I know it was his stuff, why he did not bring the police to the place where he was given the bag?

    • Nel
      March 29, 2014

      so he don’t know wats in the bag and he is packing them under groceries in the bus? schupes

    • Simply the Truth
      March 29, 2014

      Make no excuses for these people. It would be a good idea to ask what is in them and to search them; not the customers but anyone who gives the driver a bag or parcel to transport.
      They know marijuana is illegal in Dominica. If they fail to honor and respect the Law of the land, they must bear the consequences.

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