Friday, December 17, 2010

Bail Bonds History

By Jillian Hughes

The history of US bail bonds is predicated upon English law. The original colonies enacted bail specific laws in 1776. These laws were woven into the Constitution's amendments as well as stand alone laws

The eighth amendment is the most recognized as the root of bail law. This guarantees excess bail may not be used to hold suspects who rightfully are entitled to bail. The sixth amendment ensures one knows if they are entitled to bail under the law, it does not give them rights to bail already existing in law.

Further legal consideration of bail was found in the Judiciary act of 1789. However, this act didn't make the distinction of bail usage before or after conviction. The Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure in 1946, added clarity to the issue by stating that defendants released after a conviction because of an appeal that is pending, or application for certiorari is a judge's prerogative regardless of the crime.

The bail laws remained largely unchanged since the 1700's until 1966. The Bail Reform Act of 1966 guaranteed that defendants accused of crimes that are non-capital offenses, will be offered release prior to trial on personal bail bond or their own recognizance unless a judge determines that there are not adequate assurances that the defendant will appearance at their criminal trial. At its core, the law compels judges to use the most unobtrusive means that will reasonably assure the court that a defendant will be released, but subsequently appear in court as ordered. Hence, a defendant can be released from jail with stipulations such as having to post a bail bond, paying bail or having their travel limited. For those that have been charged with or convicted of a capital offense are subject to a different standard. They are to be released unless a judge has a reasonable doubt that there are no conditions that "will reasonably assure that the person will not flee or pose danger to any other person or to the community."

The Bail Reform Act was created to release defendants with as little disruption as possible while still assuring their appearance at trial. Deciding whether a defendant will appear for trial is the only standard for deciding bail. Capital cased or conviction are the only situations where a judge is authorized to decide if the person is a danger to the community or a persons safety. This does not occur in non-capital cases.

Although bail laws have changed through the years one thing has basically remained the same. You have the right to be released from custody if the judge does not have a reasonable doubt you will appear in court.

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