A bill that the Fono passed during its fourth regular session has been signed into law by Governor Lolo Moliga.
The bill allows the prosecution and defense to agree to, and the court to approve a plea in abeyance.
This suspends the entering of a defendant’s plea and place him or her on probation at the end of which the court may reduce the charge the defendant plead guilty to or dismiss the original charge .
It’s intended to give the defendant a second chance. However this would not apply in sexual offense cases in which a victim is under 14.
Governor Lolo said this bill represents a key tool in making our criminal justice system more fair.
A plea in abeyance will allow for an appropriate opportunity for a second chance while also putting important limitations to ensure the public interest in justice is served.