PHILIPSBURG–Three persons received two-month suspended sentences on Thursday for carrying fake driver’s licences.
The Court of First Instance sentenced Algrance Petit Jean (50) to two months suspended, on two years’ probation, for having presented a fake driver’s licence at one of the branches of Windward Islands Bank (WIB) on July 30. He was also found in possession of an authentic St. Maarten licence, which had expired in 2014.
The security guard told the Court he had paid US $400 to a man in the street, who had told him he had connections within the St. Maarten civil service. His new, but forged licence had a validity period of one year.
The Prosecutor explained to the Court that up until 2014 there was an arrangement between the governments of Dutch St. Maarten and French St. Martin that enabled residents of French St. Martin to obtain a driver’s licence on the Dutch side of the island with a limited validity of one year.
The Haiti-born defendant, who has been residing on the island since 1983, claimed he had acted in good faith. His lawyer Safira Ibrahim pleaded not guilty and said her client, who had spent one day in detention, should be acquitted.
However, the Judge found possession and use of a fake driver’s licence proven. She pointed out that a licence is not only proof of the carrier’s driving skills, but can also be used for identification.
“Everyone, including banks, schools and the Court, needs to know who you are,” the Judge said, adding that she agreed with the Prosecutor’s observation that carrying a false passport is a more serious crime. Carrying a false passport is punishable by an unconditional prison sentence.
Matancia Jene Bievenir (55) was arrested when she applied for renewal of her fake driver’s licence at the Civil Registry (Census Office) on August 1. She had bought the licence for $700 from a man in Marigot.
She told the Court she had obtained her original licence in Saba and said her busy job did not allow her to take driving lessons and sit the required exams to obtain a new licence through the official channels.
Attorney Marlon Hart claimed that his client should not be considered the buyer of a bogus document. Instead, she had merely turned in good faith to a man who had offered her his services in obtaining a valid licence for her.
However, the Prosecutor and the Judge were both convinced that the woman knew the licence was forged, as it had been purchased for a “ridiculous” price.
Christopher Wendel Dwen Cocks (24) was apprehended during a traffic control while he was driving in a vehicle with tinted windows on August 1. The control yielded a false licence and 10 grams of marijuana.
The uncertified driver told the Court he had failed to obtain a licence for three years, after which he had purchased a fake one as proof of his – non-existing – driving skills.
He said he had paid a man named “Ricardo” from French Quarter $1,100 for the licence, but failed to provide the authorities with his provider’s last name, address and telephone number.
The Judge said this case was worse than the other two because Cocks was unfit to drive. “You are a danger on the road. You could have hurt or killed somebody. In the hands of an unskilled driver a car can be a murder weapon,” said the Judge.
Source: The Daily Herald https://www.thedailyherald.sx/islands/81779-suspended-sentences-for-forged-driver-s-licences