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Mandatory 120 days in custody for accused
The Bail Amendment Act 2015 (Act No 7 of 2015) was assented to and came into effect on April 29, 2015. It is the latest in a series of amendments to the Bail Act Chap 4:60, which provides for the eligibility for bail (release from custody) of accused persons in criminal proceedings. The Act amends section 5 of the Bail Act to restrict bail for a limited period in respect of certain offences involving the use or possession of a firearm and offences under the Anti-Gang Act.
Under the Act a court shall not grant bail to a person who is over the age of 18 years and charged with an offence under the Anti-Gang Act 2011.The Act restricts the granting of bail if a person is charged with an offence under section 6 of the Firearms Act (unlawful possession of a firearm or ammunition) and has a charge pending for any of the offences specified in Part Two of the First Schedule to the Bail Act. These offences are listed in the table below.
Where a person is charged with any of the specified offences the amendment precludes the granting of bail for up to 120 days. This means that a court cannot hear an application for bail from such a person unless no evidence is taken within 120 days from the reading of the charge. The person can apply for bail after 120 days if the prosecution has not started its case.
• possession of imitation firearms in pursuance of any criminal offence;
• larceny of a motor vehicle;
• perverting or defeating the course of public justice;
• receiving stolen goods;
• gang membership;
• preventing gang member from leaving a gang;
• participation in criminal activity in association with a gang;
• possession of bullet-proof vest, firearm or ammunition for benefit of gang;
• harbouring or concealing gang members
• recruiting gang members;
• threatening to publish with intent to extort; and
• demanding money with menaces.
The Act also restricts bail if a person is charged with one of the above specified offences, and the prosecution informs the court that the person or any other person involved in the commission of the offence:
used or had a firearm in his possession; or had an imitation firearm in his possession during the commission of the said offence.
The provisions of the Act have a ‘sunset clause’ and expire on August 15, 2016. This column is not legal advice. If you have a legal problem, you should consult a legal adviser. Co-ordinator: Roshan Ramcharitar
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