Magistrate recommends implementation of a Bail Act to reduce criminality

Magistrate Behanzin

Magistrate Tiyani Behanzin has called for the introduction of a Bail Act as soon as possible to address some of the inconsistencies within the justice system.

He believes the absence of a Bail Act leaves no general guidelines to govern bail, sometimes resulting in contradictory rulings among magistrates.

“I was a bit astonished that there was no general guideline for bail because there is no bail act. There’s nothing that governs bail, apart from vague reference in the constitution,” he stated.

Behanzin spoke of cases where he had denied bail for certain defendants who were then released on bail within 24 hours by another magistrate.  This, he said, shows some level of inconsistency within the system.

“If you are on bail and you commit another offense there is no bail for you. That is a cardinal rule for not giving bail… another magistrate shouldn’t give you bail if another magistrate denies you bail. That application should be encouraged to go to the high court … and it only happens to me mostly,” he explained.

“I deny you bail on Tuesday at 3 o’clock, the next morning you outside. That makes the system look inconsistent. It makes the system look as if it’s a personal thing against some of the decisions that I’m making … For example, if I say, based on the reports that I have received from a doctor that that person is a danger , my colleague or anybody else at that level should not then say that person is okay to be released less than 24 hours later. That makes no sense,” the magistrate stated.

The magistrate related a particular situation where he had denied bail for a defendant who was shortly granted bail by another magistrate. He was killed within eight days of his release.

“There was a gentleman who was refused bail at magistrate’s court, he went to the high court, bail was refused.  His bail was opened at the magistrate court level, which means the magistrate court is reviewing the decision of the high court, which is impossible. He was then released. Just so he will be killed so he cannot give evidence in that matter again. He was killed within eight days,” the magistrate said.

Reports were written to try to get the defendant rearrested because “clearly he was out unlawfully,” according to Behanzin.

“The fact that he was a poor ‘malayway’ had a huge effect on this case because nobody cared … He was already involved in certain criminal activity, so therefore his life is not worth it. But should he have been delivered to the society so that he will be killed? Nobody wants to answer that question,” he uttered.

In addition, the magistrate mentioned a case where another man-accused of grievous bodily harm- whom he had denied bail to, went missing and is now feared dead after receiving bail a few days later from another magistrate.

Behanzin said he believes that a Bail Act will put matters into perspective so that the magistracy as a whole can look at general guidelines when considering bail. While bail is granted for rape and murder, Behanzin is not pleased with bail being granted for to someone charged with murder.

He made reference to distinct variations in bail sums among magistrates for serious crimes- another inconsistency he is convinced is caused by the lack of a bail legislation, adding “in one court $4,000 and the next court, we get $60,000 and you get $30,000, so you just shop. Depending on who is sitting in court that day, you just shop around.”

The magistrate also spoke against low bail sums for serious crimes which he believes make it easier for persons to “disappear” after committing crimes.

“People almost calculate when there is such a low bail level people disappear. They pay $5,000… they disappear, and they send it to the court or the person who was suppose to have stood bail for them sent the money to pay the court, so $5,000 doesn’t get us anywhere,” he said.

He raised concern over the ‘ridiculous’ issue of defendants being asked to surrender their passports as a condition of their bail in efforts to guarantee that they do not flee the jurisdiction.

“It’s ridiculous. This is an island. You could take a boat in Anse De Mais tonight; you can leave Portsmouth by boat tonight to go to Guada, or any of the places you wanna go to without passport. You can leave right outside the marine base with stolen goods coming in and out, and nobody seeing you, so I think it’s pretty silly to tell somebody hand over your passport … What you must say and you should say is that defendant cannot step off Dominican soil…” he said.

According to him, granting bail generates a certain kind of criminality on the streets, therefore bail matters should be taken very seriously. “If I know I could shoot you today and get bail, well I can shoot you today. No long story… This is exactly what the case was in Bahamas and they’ve now put a stop to it.”

The local magistrate’s comments were made at a forum in Trafalgar recently.

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29 Comments

  1. learn
    August 18, 2010

    Tiyani Behanizin, this is a magristrate of GREAT courage who is concerned about every dominican’s future…..i hope his critics realise that….let’s not wait until the crime situation reaches our homes or start tormenting our children for us to cry out help,help,help like the wolf..remember all the lawyers who aRE on Tiyani”s back like crime to happen to poor people’s children so they live in their luxuries….out of huge fees they charge those same poor people.

  2. country
    August 6, 2010

    i think that the magistrate is right.

    what happens there, is that it lives the public ignorant of what the law realy means.

    when there are two working within the same institution taking contrary rullings for the same crime you know what that means?

    once there are pricise laws to govern such rullings it limits the potential for inconsistent outcomes, well unless someone like DONSY interprites the law to suit them self.

    so i’ll go with the magistrats for now.

  3. AMOSQUITO
    August 6, 2010

    @Tell ur Brother:

    TOO TRUE MY FRIEND

  4. AMOSQUITO
    August 6, 2010

    There is no other way around the criminality in DA. This man has given inconsitencies in delivering the laws on BAIL and even gave an example of his implementation/decision and it was overruled and in —————a case result in the death of an individual. He may be correct for him to believe the overrulings were deliberate

    I SAY THE MAN BEHANZINE IS LEGALLY TOUGH and moving in the correct direction to eradicate criminal elements in DA. Give the guy break and employ more ———legal beaks with his thinking

  5. Kanpeche
    August 6, 2010

    @Grand Bayrian:

    I meant to say: could not have…too quick on the trigger.

  6. Kanpeche
    August 6, 2010

    @Grand Bayrian:

    I could have said it better myself.

    I always wish this young lion, and son of our soil, a safe journey. I am sure he knows that there are enemies at the gate, and at every corner. However, as the saying goes, “Courage can’t see around corners, but goes around them anyway.”

    “Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgement that something else is more important than fear.”

    I think it is about time that our antiquated laws and penal codes are reviewed and upgraded to match modern day crimes and criminals. Those codes were written in those days when a man would steal a coconut, and he was arrested and taken to court. Today’s crimes are of a much higher sophistication and severity. Il faut nous changeons.

  7. HM
    August 6, 2010

    @Nut HEad: i think you should call your self brainless instead of nut-head.

  8. UPTOWN REBEL!!!
    August 6, 2010

    That’s a very good idea indeed. So let us get to work and introduce the Bail Act. There should also be strict guidelines governing this Act, for every Magistrate across the board, to follow. With no partiality,contradictions and inconsistencies.
    If they all(Magistrates,or Judges) follow the same guideline,then there should be no controversies and confusion. It must be adhered to by everyone involve, and must not be violated. Lawyers,should not be able to use any loopholes to get around this Act. Let us plug all the loopholes now. The justice System should not be a revolving door,and therefore never be made into a mockery.
    The whole point is, society have to be protected from criminals.
    The Bail Act is a very important piece of legislation. It protects the public as well as the accused.
    Yes there are instances when Bail should be denied; for certain crimes, including murders,rapes,and other heinous crimes.
    Then,there is the question of the amount of money, and, or requirements when it comes the stipulations of Bail. A set bail amount, and requirements,depending on the charge,or charges must be implemented also. As well as orders of protection.Not just the surrendering of travel documents.

    Another very important aspect of all this, is,the Police. They need to do a much,much better job of investigating,and the presentation of charges. In my opinion, when comes to investigating crimes,the choice of charges, they are lacking somewhat.
    They need to use much better investigative skills and techniques.That, will only come with better, and proper training. Including much better use and perfecting of Finger-printing skill and the introduction of forensics. After all we are in the 21st centry.
    All players need to come together for the good of the Country and its citizens.
    Thank you..and…All the best.

  9. Dr. Finger
    August 6, 2010

    Hold tight my boy, one day they will listen. At least you have the belly to tell it like it is. There is a “klan” mentality among those lady magistrates and lady attorneys in the land. Thats why the lady attorneys only want their cases to proceed before before the lady magistrates. They are so obvious it is pitiful. Now if that is not injustice and corruption then I don’t know what is. The AG who is also female should have a closer look and take some action but I guess she is being cautious. But I am certain there are those is authority who are taking a really close look at the cronyism going on in our courts. Time will tell for justice delayed is justice denied

  10. STAFFEE
    August 5, 2010

    Mr. magistrate you are on the track man. Since your reign, we have gotten some good feed backs from you. Some donkeys will not like that.

  11. James Galloway
    August 5, 2010

    The Law is the law; While I applaud the magistrates effort to curb crime … hit the nail on the head. Mr Behanzin seems to know it all; as a result his poor decisions.

    Pleasee sir, work within the law and cit … some slack

  12. REBEL!!...with a cause.
    August 5, 2010

    @Nut HEad: Your name says it all.
    Nuts are nuts,idiots are idiots,…you are both.
    Simply clueless….

  13. Grand Bayrian
    August 5, 2010

    Magistrate Tiyani Behanzin, my brother, In Dominica speaking truth to power might cost you your head on a silver platter, however; I commend you for such action, the lawyers in D/ca all they care about is making sure thier wallet is thick in thier back pocket. keep exposing them, for what they are, and hoping our people will push the government in the right direction, If the leaders don’t lead, then the people must.

  14. justbereal
    August 5, 2010

    @Nut HEad:

    DA not JA time to stop crime before it gets to big to fix

  15. maestro279
    August 5, 2010

    Give the man a break.

    at least he is confident enough to stand up for what he believe, sad that so many of us are afraid to stick our head out and hide behind names like Nut head.

    i am not an attorney nor do i work in that field but his arguments appear logical.

    well done Mr Behanzin.

  16. Shan
    August 5, 2010

    @Nut HEad: I suppose that explains why our country is in the mess it is, to few people who thinks they know it all. Too bad those we have doesn’t know anything.

  17. Shan
    August 5, 2010

    Why should someone who is trying to uphold the law and do the best for his country and its citizens be so disliked by so many?

    All this young man is doing, is trying to put things right! Why is it so hard for everyone else to fall in line and create some peace?

    Some of the remarks that some Dominican’s make are so Stupid, inconsiderate, ungrateful and utterly useless – wish their PC’s would crash when they wrote stupid things! Must everything thing in this country revolve around politics more specifically politicians?

    Way to go Mr T. When things get to hot i suggest you stop trying to save people who doesn’t even care about themselves nor do they want to be saved.

    I will always admire a man who can stand and take criticism for wanting to do the right thing – especially for people who could not careless about him or themselves.

  18. mainstay
    August 5, 2010

    How do you work out from this report that the man is Know all

  19. Eyes Wide Open
    August 5, 2010

    You know what, anyone who has the gull to criticise Mr. Behanzin negatively; doesn`t have Dominica and Dominican`s best interest at heart. Have you seen how crime rate has increased lately? People just robbing people, raping people little children and killing people sons and daughters and then they get a little bail and go about their lives merrily. They reach up stockfarm for 1, 2 years and then they are out. I mean people we need to get serious. just the other day I was looking at a friends facebook pic and lo and behold saw this guy who was in jail for some really serious crime just the other day, the guy in the states enjoying himself. I mean really… And these lawyers we have there in Dominica, only interested in getting paid so they don`t really care how this upsurge in crime is affecting our society. This bar association should be ashamed of themselves, they have brought shame and disgrace to the legal practise in the country. Before, when you would hear so and so`s son or daughter is a lawyer, you would be marvelled, but now, all you say is OMG not another one…

  20. El Maldito
    August 5, 2010

    U really a f….ing Nut HEad patner, no damn sentido comun, check urself brotherman, u might b the next victim……

  21. Beff LA
    August 5, 2010

    Thats True Mr.Tiyani Behanzin. Good recomendation.

  22. Thinker
    August 5, 2010

    This man is brilliant, but of course he will not be liked by many, especially the lawyers. Dominica needs more like him to bring common sense to the society.

  23. Interested
    August 5, 2010

    Who is Behanzin’s brother?

  24. Tell ur Brother
    August 5, 2010

    Behanzin is cool real cool I like his philospohy but he should speak to his brother who in turn can have ther AG address the issue then we can have prepared the way to debate this issue.

  25. Smurfy
    August 5, 2010

    “Nut HEad,” some body must harm you or your family and that family member is still in the hospital with the medical people not knowing whether that family member is going to make it and the next thing you know is that the person who committed the crime was bailed. How would you feel? You people just make comment and i’m not sure you read or can read or can make sense out of what you read…..

  26. joe
    August 5, 2010

    wellli guess when ne makes one decisions the defendants are friends with other magistrates or have a few strings pulled to get them off. I think all what he says its so true surrender yr passport my ass anyone can do that and leave the next minute.. These are the things government should put in place people need to belocked up for offences and the surety signing the bail should be punished as well when the person leaves the island and no favors at all

  27. Margaret Rose
    August 5, 2010

    Your are so right, “record number of his cases overturned” that is why a man on bail can rape the same child again one day before he re-appeared in court. That is why Drugs Lords and all other criminal can walk the streets of Roseau , that is why a man can shoot another man in the back of his head, and still walk free in Roseau, because they all the A**NESS his colleagues does in the name of the LAW.

  28. SHHHHHHHH!
    August 5, 2010

    @Nut HEad: Maybe if we had more officials who “knows it all” the crime rate would reduce!

  29. Nut HEad
    August 5, 2010

    I really think this man is in the wrong profession ..his foot is too far up his rear

    he seems to know it all …first it was the age of consent, then about police aiding drug dealers, now is bail act ..

    a man who knows it all knows nothing ..

    this is evident in the backlash he received from his colleagues and the record number of overturned cases ….

    remember magistrate Pride Cometh Before The Fall

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