Chief Magistrate exercises leniency Print E-mail
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Thursday, 03 March 2016 00:00

Chief Magistrate Anne Marie Smith has a reputation in both Belize and Jamaica of being an extremely tough judge. There are rare occasions; however, when she exercises extreme leniency for non-violent offenses. In other words, Chief Magistrate Smith does have a heart.

The most recent beneficiary of that rare exercise of leniency is American visitor, Stacey Ann Sanzobrin, 46.   According to police, at 2:30 p.m. on Thursday, February 25, officers at the Phillip Goldson International Airport were notified that a couple passing through the screening machine had a strong smell of marijuana. The officers approached Stacey Ann Sanzobrin and her husband, Stephen Leonard, in the departure area of the airport and informed them that a search would be conducted. During the search, an officer found stick of weed inside a Marlboro cigarette pack that was tucked in Sanzobrin’s pink carry on bag. As a result, the Waterford Michigan resident was arrested and charged with one count of possession of a controlled drug, 0.7 grams of marijuana.

Sanzobrin was escorted before Chief Magistrate Anne Marie Smith on Friday, February 26. She was read a single charge of possession of a controlled drug and she wasted no time in pleading guilty to the charge. After accepting the facts, Sanzobrin told the court “I am a medical marijuana patient in Michigan. My doctor has prescribed it  for me.” Chief Magistrate Smith told her that marijuana is illegal in Belize. She said that she had no knowledge that it was illegal in Belize and that she meant no disrespect to the country. After the apology, Chief Magistrate Smith told her “You are cautioned and discharged.”

Sanzobrin was free to go. She seemed pleasantly surprised with the outcome of the case. This was not the first time Chief Magistrate Smith had chosen not to fine or confine an individual for a guilty plea. She has done it before for similar offenses with small quantities of marijuana, public drinking and petty theft for first time offenders.