Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Sentencing for Statutory Rape in Trinidad and Tobago

Q: My brother is 18 and the girl is 14, but said she was 17 .He was charged with 2 counts of sexual assault with her consent what could be the imprisonment

A: All the sections referred to in this post are found under the Sexual Offences Act 1986, as amended:
With a good Lawyer, he should first be looking at having the charges ‘reduced’ to serious indecency under section 16(1) and he may then receive a lesser sentence. However, for grievous sexual assault, the least sentence I have seen was 3 ½ years, but it’s for the judge to decide. The Act does not stipulate any specific range.

However, the following information may give an idea of what sentencing is like in this area.
6(1) Where a male person has sexual intercourse with a female person who is not his wife and who is under the age of fourteen years, he is guilty of an offence, whether or not the female person consented to the intercourse and whether or not at the time of the intercourse he believed her to be fourteen years of age or more, and is liable on conviction to imprisonment for life.

7(1) Where a male person has sexual intercourse with a female person who is not his wife with her consent and who has attained the age of fourteen years but has not yet attained the age of sixteen years he is guilty of an offence, and is liable on conviction to imprisonment for twelve years for a first offence and to imprisonment for fifteen years for a subsequent offence.

8(1) Where a female adult has sexual intercourse with a male person who is not her husband and who is under the age of sixteen years, she is guilty of an offence, whether or not the male person consented to the intercourse, and is liable on conviction to imprisonment for five years.

The defences to the offences in 7(1) and 8(1) are:
Ø  Honest belief that the person is 16 or more
Ø  The age difference is not greater than 3 years and the Court is of the opinion that the evidence discloses that the defendant is not wholly or chiefly to blame

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Implied agreement to divorce

Q: I want a divorce, but my husband says that he will not sign any divorce papers; what can I do?

A: Many people believe that a divorce requires the express agreement of both parties, but this is not true. The person filing for the divorce (the petitioner) does NOT need the express agreement of the person who has the opportunity to respond (the respondent) to the divorce petition/application. 

When the petitioner makes the application, the respondent must be served, and if the person's home address is unknown, or s/he lives outside of Trinidad & Tobago, an additional application for substituted service is required. Substituted service can involve service to a person's work address, a close family member, a newspaper advertisement, e-mail, or even Facebook (as was the case in Canada). A tracking number is all the proof required to prove that constructive notice was given via substituted service. 

When the respondent is served with the document outlining the grounds for divorce (the particulars), s/he then has the opportunity to deny the allegations (contest the divorce), agree with the allegations (uncontested divorce) or do nothing (implied uncontested divorce). In the latter, when the petitioner shows up to the hearing, and the respondent, having been probably notified, refused to acknowledge the matter, the hearing will continue, and the Judge will still proceed to grant the divorce nisi decree. 

Many simple divorces (no children or property to separate) are dealt with via ex parte decrees. 

If the marriage isn't working, don't think that you have to stay because the other party is using that to hold you hostage. 

Sunday, 16 February 2014

Air gun law in Trinidad and Tobago

Q: Hi, are air guns illegal in Trinidad and Tobago? Do I need a license to own one?

A: The answer to both questions is, "it depends". According to the Firearms (Air weapons) Order made under s.2 of the Firearms Act 1970, as amended:

"For the purposes of the definition of “firearm” occurring in section 2 of the Firearms Act, it is hereby declared that a firearm does not include air weapons of or below .177 calibre, unless the barrel thereof is rifled."

Simply put, owning an air gun without a license is illegal if it is over .177 calibre.