The system of posting money or property in exchange for temporary release pending a trial dates back to 13th century England. The commercial practice of offering bail bonds arose out of a need to balance the playing field among the rich, middle, and poor classes when individuals were accused of a crime.
Bondsmen will accept a percentage of the bail needed and post the rest for someone who has been charged with a crime and is awaiting trial. In the past, only those who had enough money and property to post as security were lucky enough to secure temporary release pending their trials. Entrepreneurs eventually realized that with enough capital, they could offer this security to the court in a defendant’s name after receiving a percentage of the amount as insurance. There are extra fees involved when using a commercial bond service, which is how the organization profits from this practice.
Bail Bond History In The U.S. And It’s Importance
Bail has been a right granted to US citizen’s accused of crimes since the founding of the country. As the American legal system has grown, legislation regarding bail has changed as well. The history of the American bail process can be traced through different legal decisions that have been handed down over the years.
The Judiciary Act of 1789
This act declared that all persons accused of non-capital crimes could be granted bail. This provided a legal precedent for the rights of defendants facing a trial and prevented judges from imposing excessive bail fines on an accused person.
The Sixth Amendment
This amendment to the US Constitution declares that any accused person is guaranteed the right to a “speedy and public” trial, guarantees that the accused person will have the right to find witnesses “in his favor” as well as the chance to procure the services of an attorney. Along with the Judiciary Act, this allows for defendants to post bail, as they are presumed innocent until proven guilty.
The Eighth Amendment
The Eighth Amendment prohibits excessive bail. In the past, officials who might set bail at an unreasonable amount in order to prevent the accused from leaving custody before their trial began could abuse the bail system with no opposition. The Supreme Court later clarified the terms “excessive bail” and “excessive fines” as any fine that is exponentially larger than what would typically be expected for the crime that the defendant is accused of committing.
Reform Act of 1966
The Bail Reform Act of 1966 provides accused persons with a statutory right to bail. However, there were some issues with how the law permitted those accused of violent crimes to post bail and go free temporarily on their own personal recognizance.
The 1984 Bail Law
The legal authorities in some jurisdictions criticized the 1966 Bail Reform Act, as it did not make provisions to detain persons who were accused of violent crimes. The only time that bail could be denied was if the defendant was seen as a flight risk. The 1984 bail law that replaced the 1966 law allowed for the pre-trial detention of some defendants based on their potential risk to themselves, their close acquaintances or the general public.
The business of posting bail bonds for individuals who are qualified by the court provides a much-needed service. Those who are financially unable to provide the entire amount of funds set by the court often find this service to be an invaluable one.
This is a general article for example purposes. As always, please contact us at 979-821-2663 regarding your specific case.