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Jan 5, 2012

Bail requirements carry serious responsibilities

Michael Peyrefitte

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.

Michael Peyrefitte

“The 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 indicates—because the Bail Reform Act says that once you’re below five thousand dollars, then you don’t 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 don’t 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 don’t want this as a surety because we don’t believe this individual is working, we don’t believe that this individual has the ability to pay. And of course the penalty if you don’t 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 you’re released and you’re good to go until the trial is completed.  I don’t know—it 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 they’re trying to do is to get people to pay or get people to understand how serious it is when you’re signing as a surety for someone who has been accused of a crime.”

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