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Hawaii: Incarceration is Good Cause for Failure to Appear; Bail Forfeiture Set Aside

The Hawaii Supreme Court has held that incarceration constitutes good cause for failing to appear at an arraignment. As such, the trial court abused its discretion in refusing to set aside a bail forfeiture.

Atmarama D. Diaz faced criminal charges in Hawaii and California. He was arrested on a drug charge at Honolulu International Airport in July 2004, posted $1,000 bail and was released. Later that day he traveled to California to face his charges in that jurisdiction.

Diaz was taken into custody in California, where he remained at the time of his August 9, 2004 Hawaii arraignment. The trial court forfeited his bail when he did not appear.

Diaz’s attorney moved to set aside the bail forfeiture, arguing that Diaz’s incarceration in California made it impossible for him to appear for the arraignment in Hawaii. The court denied the motion, finding that Diaz’s incarceration was not “good cause” to set aside the forfeiture. The Intermediate Court of Appeals affirmed.

The Hawaii Supreme Court reversed, however, holding that the trial court had abused its discretion in denying Diaz’s motion because, based on the record before the Court, he “did establish good cause for setting aside” the bail forfeiture under Haw. Rev. Stat. § 804-51 (Supp. 2009), due to his incarceration.

The Supreme Court wrote, “There is no indication in the record that Petitioner ‘[broke] his ... recognizance intentionally, with the design of evading justice, or without a sufficient cause or reasonable excuse.’” The case was remanded for further proceedings. See: Hawaii v. Diaz, 128 Haw. 215, 286 P.3d 824 (Haw. 2012).

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