A strong mitigation plea by defense attorney Joshua Francis after his client’s guilty plea was enough to sway Magistrate Michael Laudat not to impose a custodial sentence on 47-year-old Marshall Jean Jacques.
Facts of the case
On Saturday, May 14, 2022, at about 12:15 pm members of the Drugs Squad were on patrol in the Roseau Market when Jean Jacques was seen with a grey & black bag on his lap acting suspiciously on seeing the police.
He was approached and questioned about the contents in the bag and responded saying, “a little weed I have in my bag, I had seven trees in my yard, so I cut them.”
Jean Jacques was taken into custody and the drugs were weighed and amounted to 177.5 grams. The legal amount that one can have without being prosecuted is 28 grams.
Plea in mitigation
Defense attorney Joshua Francis told the court that his client is the father of seven children including four minors the youngest being six years old and he resides with “his common-law wife and children and is the sole breadwinner of the family.”
According to the lawyer, his client is “multi-talented” and is skilled as a mason, and plumber, and does farming. “He is known as a peaceful person and is very community-oriented with a soft disposition, he did not waste judicial time and also fully cooperated with the police from the onset and accepted responsibility,” Francis told the court.
“He is remorseful for his actions, has never been before the court before, and in the circumstances Your Honour, we humbly beg the court for a non-custodial sentence.” The estimated street value of the drugs is $380.00. Francis told the court that since he sees “no aggravating factors in the case a suspended sentence would be appropriate.”
Police prosecutor Inspector Frank Commodore prosecuted on behalf of the State in the matter. Cannabis possession carries a fine of $150,000.00 and or up to 15 years in prison.
Before passing the sentence, Magistrate Laudat inquired from Jean Jacques about his financial means and the ages of the rest of his children. “I don’t want you to go to jail, you need to continue to support your children to go to school so I won’t give you a suspended sentence,” the Magistrate stated.
He also informed him that he can fine him three times the street value of the drugs which is $1,140.00.
“The court is going to be lenient with you, you are fined $1,000.00 to be paid by December 16, 2022, in default you will go to jail for six months, go home and take care of your children,” Magistrate Laudat said. He also gave him back the bag and cautioned him that he should not wait till December to pay the fine. “If every week you put a $20.00 or a $50.00 before you know it you are finished paying so, please take this advice and do what you have to do, remember you have your children to take care of,” the Magistrate told him.