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The Jamaican legal system is largely based on the British system and therefore influenced by a common law system.[1] Under section 13(a) of the Jamaican Constitution 1962, everyone in Jamaica has a right to ‘the protection of the law’[2]. The Jamaican criminal justice is also governed by the Jamaican Penal Code and the Prevention of Crime Law of 1963[3].

Police Procedures

Arrest, Search and Seizure Laws

The police force in Jamaica is the Jamaica Constabulary Force. The Jamaican government has created police forces to patrol areas by foot and on bicycles in order to reduce crime levels[4]. Section 15(1) covers the situations in which individuals may be detained by the police, and it is section 15(1)(f) which gives the police force the necessary power to detain a person for the purpose of arresting them. This article states, the officer may detain the individual “upon reasonable suspicion of his having committed or of being about to commit a criminal offence”[5].

Foreign nationals who commit a crime in Jamaica may be expelled or imprisoned[6]. Crimes involving illegal drugs (the use, possession or trafficking of such drugs) carry very heavy fines or long imprisonment sentences[7].

Whilst section 19(1) of the Jamaican Constitution ensure individuals cannot be subject to a search of their person, or their property, section 19(2) grants the necessary power to the police to enable them to search persons and their property as ‘reasonably required for the purpose of preventing or detecting crime’[8]. Under section 15(2) of the Constitution, an individual arrested must be informed of the reasons for their arrest[9]. Article 15(3) also ensured that individuals are brought before the court within a reasonable time[10]. Individuals also have the opportunity to have their detention reviewed by ‘an independent and impartial tribunal’[11].

The Suppression of Crime Act ensures a person is formally charged with a crime within a ‘reasonable time’ following their arrest[12]. Once arrested and charged, the defendant ‘shall be brought without delay before a court’[13] and if they are not tried within a ‘reasonable time’, the defendant ‘shall be released... unconditionally’ (in the absence of circumstances during a public emergency which justify the detention)[14].

Court Procedures



Court System


  1. http://www.country-data.com/cgi-bin/query/r-3197.html
  2. Article 13(a) Chapter III The Jamaican Constitution of 1962
  3. http://www.country-data.com/cgi-bin/query/r-3197.html
  4. http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/cis/cis_1147.html
  5. Section 15 Chapter III The Jamaican Constitution of 1962
  6. http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/cis/cis_1147.html
  7. http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/cis/cis_1147.html
  8. Section 19 Chapter III The Jamaican Constitution of 1962
  9. Section 15 Chapter III The Jamaican Constitution of 1962
  10. Section 15 Chapter III The Jamaican Constitution of 1962
  11. Section 15(6) Chapter III The Jamaican Constitution of 1962
  12. http://www.mongabay.com/history/caribbean_islands/caribbean_islands-the_criminal_justice_system.html
  13. Section 15(3) Chapter III The Jamaican Constitution of 1962
  14. Section 15(3) Chapter III The Jamaican Constitution of 1962