Headline — 20 February 2016 — by Rowland A. Parks
DPP to review “powder-puff” sentence for burglary

BELIZE CITY, Thurs. Feb. 18, 2016–The offense of burglary carries a minimum prison sentence of 7 years under the most recent amendment to the law, but on Tuesday, Belize City Magistrate Deborah Rogers sentenced a repeat offender to six weeks in prison after he accepted responsibility for a burglary.

Cecil “GI Joe” Franklin, 42, a resident of Pine Street who has previous convictions for crimes of dishonesty, was the recipient of an unusual judicial generosity after he accepted responsibility for a burglary that he allegedly committed on Friday, February 12.

Franklin burglarized the home of James Copious and stole a number of household items valued at $258.

Tanisha Flores, Copious’ girlfriend, reported to police that she was at home when Franklin entered their home as a trespasser and stole the items.

Franklin stole a blue and black wire cutter valued at $60, a green wooden-handled rake valued $14, a black shovel valued at $24 and assorted tools, all to a total value of $258.

Flores reported to police that on Friday, February 12, she was at home when Franklin walked in, grabbed her by the throat, swung her around, and that was when she recognized him. He then stole the above-mentioned items.

After he pleaded guilty and the facts of the complaint against him were read in court, Franklin agreed with the facts presented by the court prosecutor.

How could he be sentenced to just 6 weeks in light of the fact that the offense carries a 7-year sentence, was what one attorney Amandala spoke with wanted to know.

The Director of Public Prosecutions, Cheryl-Lynn Vidal, told Amandala tonight, “I don’t know what happened.”

Vidal added, “The case has been referred to me and I will look at the file tomorrow, Friday.”

Vidal explained that there is a proviso in the law that allows a magistrate to impose a lesser sentence than the minimum prison time.

For a magistrate to use the proviso, however, there has to be certain conditions. One of those conditions is that the person must have no previous conviction, and there must be a special circumstance.

In Franklin’s case, he has other cases pending before the courts, and he has previous convictions.

Vidal said that her office had taken a matter of a similar nature to the Supreme Court and the court had set aside the light sentence and imposed a proper sentence.

The magistrate would have to explain in her judgment what led her to impose such an unusually generous sentence, Vidal explained.

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