Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Law Enforcers and Bail Agents Worried about New Dona Ana Bail Schedule

The Dona Ana County Magistrate Court sets a new bail schedule for accused criminals, but it's not sitting well with some law enforcers, bail bondsmen and even victims.

The new bail schedule set early last month changes how bond is set if a judge cannot be present to hear the case.

This usually happens in the case of suspects being caught overnight after judges have gone home for the evening.

If a suspect is accused of committing several crimes and is arrested, the new order determines that bail will be set for the highest criminal charge only. The other charges will not carry bail, making it easier to be released.

According to the order filed by presiding magistrate Judge Oscar Freitze last month, the defendant can be released by posting 25 percent of the bail.

Some say that's not fair to the victim of the crime, especially in a case of rape where the victim did not get to voice his or her concerns to the judge about the defendant's release, and in some cases the victim might not get notified of the release.

One local bail bondsmen says it's unfair to have a suspect accused of commiting a crime for the first time get the same bail as a repeat criminal, if the crime is the same.

“I think that the law has become like a fast-food restaurant; the judges have gotten lazy and back in the day when my uncle was a judge people were woken up every night and never complained a bit, he felt it was his duty to give everybody a right to a reasonable bail,” said bail bondsman Randy Gomez.

Gomez said he will file a motion to undo the order, which he expects to get rejected because it came from the court he will file it in.

Undersheriff Chuck Franco said he and the sheriff are not pleased with the decision and concerned that it will allow people to get out of jail quicker with a likelihood they would not return for their court appearance.

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