Beautiful Virgin Islands

Monday, Jul 04, 2022

Complainants requesting court cases to be discontinued a trend

Complainants requesting court cases to be discontinued a trend

The Office of the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) has said it will not accept any letters – whether notarised or not – from any complainants or legal representatives of a complainant asking for a matter to be discontinued before the courts.

The DPP’s office said the announcement follows a disturbing and unacceptable trend of complainants submitting letters for matters to be discontinued despite clear instructions to not send those letters.

“If a complainant no longer wishes to proceed, it is mandated they attend the police station and give a witness statement to that effect,” the press release said.

“The decision to discontinue proceedings rests solely with the Director of Public Prosecutions. Just because a complainant no longer wishes to proceed does not automatically mean that the matter will be discontinued,” it further said.

The DPP’s office also noted that there are several offences that are so severe that the prosecution of these matters is in the best interest of the public. Therefore, such cases will not be discontinued, even if a request to do such is received.

Those matters include domestic violence cases (including domestic violence between parents, children and siblings), murder or attempted murder, wounding or grievous bodily harm, assault occasioning bodily harm, burglary, drug offences, theft, and other crimes of dishonesty (such as obtaining by deception, false accounting) and sexual assault including rape and indecent exposure.

The list also includes offences where children are victims, offences where elderly persons are victims, breach of trust or public officer offences and offences that involve proceeds of criminal conduct.

You must testify

The DPP further advised the public that persons who provide witness statements are required to attend court, especially if a summons or subpoena has been issued.

“Failure to comply with a court-issued summons or subpoena could be met with court action,” the statement read.

“If a virtual complainant or witness believes they are at risk or have been threatened, they should contact the Commissioner of Police, without hesitation. It must be appreciated and respected, that all reports made to law enforcement concerning a criminal offence, are taken very seriously,” it continued.

The office highlighted that law enforcement resources are invested to ensure the investigation and prosecution of all criminal reports made.

“When a complainant or witness decides they do not want to proceed or to give evidence at court, it not only undermines the criminal justice system, it wastes law enforcement resources which could have been applied to another matter,” the DPP’s office said.

“The public is kindly reminded that threatening, persuading, or otherwise influencing a virtual complainant or witness to not give evidence, not appear at court, alter their account of a matter and any conduct that could disrupt, hinder or halt a criminal investigation or prosecution is considered a criminal offence and offenders shall be investigated and prosecuted,” it continued.


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