The New 24 Hour Law

August 1st, 2010
by Patrick Flynn

[private] I recently learned about this law the hard way. From the time criminal charges are filed, you have 24 hours to present your case in front of a judge in Roatan, or the person in custody will be released. I learned this does not work in the Bay Islands if one do

es not live in Roatan. In my case, I had to charter a boat to get to the emergency room quickly in La Ceiba for x-rays and exams for a head injury. At the same time, I had to pay all transport costs for the individual under arrest, two police officers, and my witness to and from Roatan.

By the time I got all the information my lawyer needed to present to the Fiscal, we learned the individual under arrest had been released and the case dismissed.

In most countries both sides of a case are examined before decisions are made. In my case one side of the story was heard and decided upon. Why is the second side of the story not heard? At least allow a judge to make the call or the judicial system to work properly.

The problem is that once a Fiscal closes a case and dismisses it, it cannot be reopened unless it goes to a higher court. It appears the Fiscals’ office is the one in charge in Honduras. In Honduras, it is not the judges that make the decisions for the courts, but the Fiscales. It makes me wonder how Honduras ever plans on protecting the tourists when it cannot even protect its own citizens.

The victim if the crime has to pay all the expenses to begin the process of charging the criminal. If for any reason the victim is not able to travel to the court then, the case is closed and dismissed. Think about it this way, if a person attacks another and puts that person into a coma, the victim or his family has to pay all expenses to travel to and from Roatan. Now because the individual in a coma cannot travel to Roatan to appear in person, the case is dismissed. Tell me what part of this seems fair to anyone? The judge has no say because it never gets to the judges’ office. It falls flat in the Fiscal’s office, where the Fiscal’s office is supposed to protect the rights of the individual while allowing judges more time for more important cases.

I am in the process of taking my case as far as possible under the laws of Honduras. I want to learn firsthand just how much protection me as a citizen has under our laws. It will cost money, but then any form of education comes with a price tag. Other citizens with similar challenges should find a way to get things out into the open. If we are to make things right we need more voices and documentation

I do not agree with this law but I do understand the intent of the law. The intent is to protect those falsely accused. In my case, I was attacked from behind, knocked unconscious, then beat about the head. I suffered a severe concussion which continues to affect my balance when I stand up, sit up, or lay down. The doctors tell me 2 more licks in the same manner and I would not be here. I walk with a stick just in case I lose my balance and the doctors do not know how long this will last.

I went from having a normal life to functioning within 5% of my capacity. Presently I will not allow myself to drive on the highway because of the vertigo problem. To me it is a slap in the face to not only have someone take away my freedom, but to have the Law of Honduras dismiss my case. I hope others reading this will take note and press to have this law corrected. When laws are not right it is not long until law abiding citizens begin to take the law into their own hands. [/private]

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