Case Caption: Charlesworth Gonsalves v. People of the Virgin IslandsCase Number: S. Ct. Crim. No. 2016-0058Date: 02/07/2019Author: Swan, Ive Arlington Citation: 2019 VI 4Summary:

There was sufficient evidence to support a defendant's convictions for the crimes of second degree aggravated rape of his minor daughter under 14 V.I.C. § 1700a(a) as an act of domestic violence pursuant to 16 V.I.C. § 91(b)(6), and child abuse pursuant to 14 V.I.C. §§ 503 and 505. At any time prior to verdict the information in a criminal case can be amended unless it adds a new or different offense, or would prejudice a substantial right of the defendant. Here the essential elements of second degree aggravated rape were alleged in the original information, which specifically stated that defendant and the victim have a familial relationship of father and daughter, indicating that his position of authority over the victim would be the aggravating factor the People intended to pursue. Defendant had adequate notice of the charges and no prejudice to his case is found in the amendment of the information to specify that factor. Under the totality of the circumstances, the trial court did not abuse its discretion in allowing the prosecution to amend the information after it rested its case. Testimony elicited by the prosecution that defendant and the victim's mother began an intimate relationship when she was only 14 years old was improper. However, because this was an isolated question in response to which immediate curative actions were taken, and the evidence of guilt was overwhelming, it is highly unlikely that such error affected the trial outcome. Therefore, the trial court did not abuse its discretion in denying a motion for a mistrial. The convictions are upheld and the judgment is affirmed.

Attachment: Open Document or Opinion