By Henry Morales, VozdeGuanacaste – Offenders caught redhanded who are arrested by the police of the Canton of Nicoya will be processed in less than 15 days, thanks to an initiative that will send and process them in the Flagrancy Court of Santa Cruz.
According to Omar Chavarria, Police Chief for the Canton of Nicoya, they have sent several cases to the Santa Cruz court since the beginning of May when it became possible to do so.
For the Nosara Security Association, this is very good news, especially after the case on February 19, when a thief caught in the act in a house in Playa Pelada by neighbors was released by a judge within 24 hours, with orders to stay away from Nosara and appear in court every 15 days while awaiting trial.
According to Andres Gonzalez, attorney and vice president of the Nosara Security Association, this procedure has important advantages in the country’s prison system: “If the police catch the criminal in the act, he is referred to the flagrancy court and in less than three days there is a judgment, avoiding the long and tedious process of the ordinary channel, which can take years.” Another advantage is that it reduces impunity.
For Chavarria, this model offers multiple benefits, both for the work of the various police forces, like OIJ, the tourist police and municipal police forces, as well as for the citizens who will be more motivated to report crimes to the authorities. Although he also mentioned some limitations such as restricted hours, as the court is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and should handle cases of Hojancha, Nandayure, Santa Cruz and Nicoya respectively.
Chavarria indicated that the need for a flagrancy court in the canton is latent: “In the case of Nicoya, we have seen the need for a flagrancy court. However that requires a physical and administrative platform, the appointment of prosecutors and judges, which is not feasable in our budget.”
The Flagrancy Court of Santa Cruz opened in October 2011, and at the initiative of the deputy attorney of Nicoya, Ines Caravaca, an agreement was reached with the prison authorities of Santa Cruz to allow the cases of persons detained when caught in the act to be prosecuted in the court.
The format of flagrancy courts began to be implemented in Costa Rica in 2008, mainly in the central area, and has been extending to distinct points in the country. Basically a flagrancy court makes it possible to obtain a conviction (or acquittal) of a defendant who is caught in the criminal act in a flexible process in less than 15 days.