By The Star Staff
Despite the new legal standard requiring unanimous verdicts in jury trials, the Puerto Rico Department of Justice, through the island’s 13 district attorneys’ offices, has reached a 97% conviction rate this year on behalf of victims in criminal cases.
Justice Secretary Domingo Emanuelli Hernández said Tuesday that this year the Prosecutor’s Office has filed a total of 14,546 complaints in court. In cases of femicide at the trial stage, the office maintains a 100% conviction rate and has implemented multiple tools to strengthen the prosecution of crimes that constitute domestic violence and prevent fatalities. One of those tools consists of a risk assessment so that in any case of gender-based violence, prosecutors can identify the risk to which a victim is exposed of losing their life at the hands of their aggressor.
“For us, these figures do not represent a mere number, but the number of times justice has been done to crime victims and their families on the island,” Emanuelli Hernández said. “We are transforming processes with a victim-centered approach. The Department of Justice plays an essential role in Puerto Rico and fulfills it with great commitment and effort.”
The Justice chief added that assistance for crime victims has been a priority issue for the agency.
Through the Office of Crime Victim and Witness Compensation & Services, over $789,000 has been awarded to crime victims. In addition, over $24.5 million in federal and state funds have been distributed to shelters, municipalities, and private, government and nonprofit entities that provide direct services to crime victims and their families.
Meanwhile, the Justice Department’s Division to Combat Organized Crime and Drugs joined with the Puerto Rico Police Bureau in six operations conducted against criminal organizations dedicated to the trafficking of controlled substances and the sale of weapons, along with other crimes. The action resulted in 272 arrests and the filing of 548 charges.