García’s Case: The Crime

Dania Virgen García was arrested on 20th of April. The municipal court judge in San Miguel sentenced her to 20 months in jail, for having “exercised her rights” violently and abusively. This is a crime defined in article 150 of Cuba’s criminal statutes (Codigo Penal) as “Arbitrary Exercise of Rights”.

The provision, in its first part, punishes with up to 3 months in prison or a fine of up to 100 pesos anyone who exercises a right to which they are entitled, or they reasonably believe they are entitled, against the expressed or assumed will of the other person, without having involved the appropriate authorities.

Garcia’s case was exceptional. Her crime wasn’t one of those that are frequent in the island. Experienced lawyers have never witnessed a trial where they sought to apply this provision. More so, when the general norm is that police authorities refuse to get involved in family disputes, whether they are violent or not. There is always a first time; and this time was Dania’s case.

The second part of the crime’s legal provision establishes a stiffer punishment. The sentence can be up to one year of prison or a fine of up to 300 pesos if the incident involves violence against people, intimidation or property damages/trespassing. The court sentenced Garcia to one year and eight months in jail. This means they aggravated her sentence extraordinarily.

The judicial decree has not been made public yet. However, by the text of the criminal statue, one can assumed the court considered one or more aggravating personal circumstances that increases her criminal responsibility. This is the only reason that could explain why her sentences is above the established legal limits.

According to Cuba’s criminal statutes (Codigo Penal), the court can increase up to 50% the maximum limit of an established sentence for a given crime when there are several aggravating circumstances or there is only one that it is unusually significant. Analyzing the aggravating circumstances foreseen in article 53 of the aforementioned code, we can assume the court, in her case, applied the rule in clause g): “committing the crime while abusing abuse of power, authority or trust”.

The basic description of the crime (clause 1) establishes a sentence with a minimum limit of one month in jail, and a maximum of three months. The aggravated crime (clause 2) establishes a sentence between three months and one year of jail. If the court decides to rule the extraordinary aggravated modality of the sentence (article 54), for the basic crime, the sentence would be 1-6 months of jail, while the aggravated crime could carry between 3 months – two years in jail.

Conclusion: the application of the criminal statute in Garcia’s case was using the most exceptional and rigorous standard permitted by law and the imposed sentence was aggravated twice.

Filed under Dania Virgen Garcia

Translated by: Mailyn Salabarria

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