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#426698 - 01/04/12 03:29 PM Chief Magistrate changes bail requirements
Marty Online   happy
Chief Magistrate Ann Marie Smith posted three new rules for securing bail from the Magistrateís Court on Thursday, December 22, but one of the new rules may make it more difficult for the poor to meet bail.

This rules states that a person wishing to sign surety for an accused personís bail will have to get a letter from a bank or a credit union to show that he or she has an account that covers the bail amount.

The problem with this new rule is that it may infringe on the principle of confidentiality shared between a financial institution and its clients.

Secondly, some persons may not have an account with a bank or credit union.

The other two provisions seem to be less controversial.

The first rule states that the surety must provide a valid telephone number for work or home. The second states that the surety must provide a job letter as proof of employment.

President of the Bar Association, Jacqueline Marshalleck, said that the Bar has not seen the details of any the new bail rules to the Belize Bar Association.

She says they will request a copy of the new rules and upon receipt will then notify its members so that the rules can be properly considered.

The Reporter

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#426893 - 01/06/12 02:49 PM Re: Chief Magistrate changes bail requirements [Re: Marty]
Marty Online   happy
Bail requirements carry serious responsibilities

Peyrefitte explained that while the procedures to secure bail are relatively straightforward, persons who sign sureties should know that it is a very serious responsibility.

ďThe process of getting bail is fairly simple. Let us say for example the magistrate gives you bail in the amount of three thousand dollars, that indicatesóbecause the Bail Reform Act says that once youíre below five thousand dollars, then you donít need land paper except of course now with the new amendment to the crime control and firearms act, it tells you that once you apply to the Supreme Court for bail, real property, land is required for bail. But under the regular magistracy system, for a normal crime not involving a firearm, if you are granted bail in the amount of less than five thousand dollars, real property is not required. But the magistracy, the court, the magistrate herself or himself can still say I want who comes to bail you, I want to make sure that they are able to pay if you donít show up for trial. So they come, the person goes to the clerk of court, the person signs and presents an ID. The court at that time can recognize the individual and say okay we accept you as a surety. The court can say no we donít want this as a surety because we donít believe this individual is working, we donít believe that this individual has the ability to pay. And of course the penalty if you donít have the ability to pay is you can go to prison. So you go in, you sign for your bail, the surety comes and signs for you saying that if you do not show up for court, then they would get that money from you, which is the amount of the bail. And the clerk of court explains that to the surety. Each person signs then youíre released and youíre good to go until the trial is completed. I donít knowóit would be good to know why the court feels that this extra security is necessary, but obviously the court is trying to tighten up the system as far as people who are not turning up to court, sureties are turning up to court and so what theyíre trying to do is to get people to pay or get people to understand how serious it is when youíre signing as a surety for someone who has been accused of a crime.Ē

Channel 5

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