Case Caption: Liston Cantois, Jr. v. People of the Virgin IslandsCase Number: S. Ct. Crim. No. 2014-0013Date: 09/05/2014Author: Per CuriamCitation: Summary:

A motion for summary reversal of a decision of the Superior Court conditioning exoneration of a criminal defendant's appearance bond upon his payment of court costs and fees, in which motion the People of the Virgin Islands joined, is granted. Although sentencing decisions are ordinarily reviewed only for abuse of discretion, plenary review is exercised when the Superior Court bases its sentence on a legal precept. The Superior Court cannot make exoneration of bail contingent upon a defendant's payment of fines, fees, or costs assessed as part of sentencing, because any bail or conditions of release that are not tailored to achieve the purpose of bail are considered excessive and therefore unconstitutional. Here, the criminal proceedings against the defendant ended when the Superior Court issued its written judgment and commitment, and thus there was no longer any need to assure his appearance at any future hearings. Therefore, the decision to condition the return of the posted sum of $2,500 upon the defendant's timely payment of $1,075 in fees, fines, and costs is wholly inconsistent with the purpose of bail and otherwise has no basis in the law, and thus must be set aside. Accordingly, that portion of the February 11, 2014 judgment and commitment conditioning exoneration of bail on payment of fines, fees, and costs is reversed and the Superior Court is directed upon remand to order that the $2,500 that the defendant's mother posted to secure his pre-trial release be refunded to her.

Attachment: Open Document or Opinion