BVI News

New court guidelines: Tougher penalties guaranteed for carrying gun near churches, schools

Persons found in possession of an illegal firearm near churches, schools or “a substantial public gathering” will be classified as high-level offenders who are now almost guaranteed tougher penalties than other gun offenders.

This was made clear in the second batch of standardised sentencing guidelines that will be used to determine the punishment of these felons, once convicted.

The Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court (ECSC) released the guidelines on July 30 with an order for them to officially take effect in all its nine member-jurisdictions — to include the BVI — on September 1.

Gang membership

Meanwhile, other factors that judges must now use to determine higher-level offenders include whether the individual found with the weapon has ‘gang membership’ or an affiliation and whether there was injury or an intention to cause injury, among other things.

Penalties will also be higher if there is evidence that a person was in possession of a gun because he/she is “motivated by revenge”.

Besides firearm-related offences, second set of sentencing guidelines were re-issued for drug and sex crimes, as well as theft, burglary and robbery offenders.

“Since the launch of the first set of guidelines [last year], the [Sentencing Advisory] Committee has not only monitored the existing guidelines for fairness and effectiveness but has also worked on developing new guidelines,” the ECSC said on its official website.

Not meant to restrict judicial discretion

The regional court further made it clear that the standard guidelines does not intend to achieve uniformity in sentences, nor does it intend to restrict judicial discretion. 

“By employing measures which demonstrate the consistency of approach and by mandating that clear reasons are provided for sentences passed, these guidelines will assist immensely in maintaining and promoting public confidence and transparency in the criminal justice system,” it stated.

First batch of guidelines

Notably, the first set of guidelines were launched on September 17, last year and came into effect roughly two weeks later on October 1, 2019.

The guidelines were for theft, unlawful and aggravated sexual intercourse, drug-related crime, robbery and rape.

The undertakings are supported by the British High Commission and the US Embassy for Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean.

READ: Eastern Caribbean Court’s Guidelines for Firearm Offences

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20 Comments

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  1. hmm lol says:

    hmm. waiting to see what come next.

    • What a ting says:

      Interesting that the majority of Government workers are not in their offices
      A small minority of Government workers are working very hard at home or in their office.
      The majority are not doing any work, but still the Government is operating as well, or as badly, as it did before.
      Maybe the Government has too many lazy employees that don’t really contribute anything useful.
      All Government employees are on full pay.
      What do you think?

      Like 7
      Dislike 2
    • Lmao says:

      I thought guns were illegal period!!! Want to solve the problem here is the answer. Caught in possession of a firearm it’s an automatic 20 years in prison. Try that and catch a few and see if there is an issue anymore. The problem is the Belonger offspring are the ones with the guns dealing dope and the costs certainly don’t want to be harsh to the poor babies.

      Like 17
      Dislike 3
      • hmm says:

        I guess you are one of those that dont understand things you read or skip to the comment section to get likes.

        People kill people every year at the end of the day tougher penalties will not prevent crime. Religion and society fill that role.

  2. Democracy says:

    Do you have a gun Sir? Yes officer. Have you been near a church or a school today Sir? No officer.
    Thank you Sir for obeying the laws of the Virgin Islands. Have a nice day Sir.

    Like 29
    Dislike 2
  3. BIG QUESTION says:

    What about those who feel threatened and carry a gun for protection??????

    Like 1
    Dislike 12
    • LG says:

      if you feel threatened and need protection then move to a country where you can Carry a gun and see how that works out for you.
      there should be ZERO guns in the BVI, that is the LAW

      Like 1
      Dislike 2
  4. What!!!! says:

    There are already tough penalties on the books having an illegal gun. The courts don’t follow them and hand down light sentences.

    Like 16
    Dislike 1
  5. Stone age says:

    Why can’t firearms be legalized for non felons to protect their families and businesses are we going to continue living in the past

    Like 8
    Dislike 9
  6. 2 cents says:

    this is a shiny government object to take the focus away from the real problems of being shut down for 6 months

    Like 8
    Dislike 3
  7. Tourism says:

    Great message for the tourists!! Maybe you can run a BVI Tourism ad with this headline “Come to the BVI where we stop people from carrying a gun near churches and schools!!”. WTF!? What ever you are smoking, please share!

    Like 4
    Dislike 2
  8. :) says:

    To those that cant read well or just plain illiterate I will highlight the important part since people are blaming the government for this,
    “The Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court (ECSC) released the guidelines on July 30 with an order for them to officially take effect in all its nine member-jurisdictions — to include the BVI — on September 1.

    Like 3
    Dislike 1
  9. Careñ says:

    Just means bigger penalties if caugbt by schoolsor churches .

  10. Windy says:

    Who’s going to enforce these tougher laws ? Who’s going to SUCCESFULY prosecute offenders ? Not our DPP

  11. Tell Dem says:

    Additionally non nationals who are found guilty for gun possession should be deported. People with guns kill and should not be tolerated.

  12. Doh says:

    Just hilarious how we add more gun laws yet claim there are none allowed in the bvi. This is just a diversion from the fact that yes, there are guns in the bvi and we have little, if no, power to stop their being used, owned, or imported. These laws are meant to be reactive, not proactive, dealing with the problem after it has occurred.

    But always remember officials telling you that there are no guns in the bvi.

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