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Does the US Bail System Need Overhauling? Arraignment, Bail, Bonds, Pretrial

Discussion in 'Criminal Procedure, Criminal Court' started by adjusterjack, Jun 18, 2021.

  1. adjusterjack

    adjusterjack Law Topic Starter Super Moderator

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    Tax Counsel made an interesting comment in a thread.

    General discussion is invited. Anybody can participate.
     
  2. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    Some states are addressing bail bond reform by allowing the alleged miscreant to promise to appear as directed.

    Time will tell if that approach improves the system.
     
  3. Tax Counsel

    Tax Counsel Well-Known Member

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    We operate a criminal justice system with the premise that one is innocent until proven guilty. The 8th Amendment to the Constitution prohibits excessive bail. The purpose of bail is to provide some incentive for the accused to return for the future proceedings in the case. As one is not guilty of a crime until that crime has been proven, i.e. convicted after a trial in a court or a plea of guilty entered, locking up a suspect prior to trial goes against the premise of innocent until proven guilty. With that in mind, bail should be set at levels that the particular defendant can pay, at least for nonviolent offenses. That means requiring courts to examine the actual ability of the accused to put up the bail rather than simply resorting to setting bail off some standard bail schedule. What we have in many states now is a system which punishes poor persons accused of nonviolent crimes by setting bail they cannot afford with the result that they sit in jail for weeks, months, or even years before they get a trial. Making someone presumed innocent sit in jail simply because he or she is poor is not justice and should not be part of a good justice system.
     
  4. adjusterjack

    adjusterjack Law Topic Starter Super Moderator

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    For a non-violent crime would it be reasonable to give the accused the option of wearing an ankle monitor in lieu of bail?
     
  5. adjusterjack

    adjusterjack Law Topic Starter Super Moderator

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    Could work if the accused has a family to support and a job to go to. Many such live paycheck to paycheck and don't have even the few hundred for minimal bail.
     
  6. Tax Counsel

    Tax Counsel Well-Known Member

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    That and other options are certainly things we ought to be considering instead of telling a poor nonviolent suspect "you either put up $X for bail or you sit in jail for a long time just waiting for your trial" when the suspect just doesn't have $X and can't get it.
     
  7. Red Kayak

    Red Kayak Well-Known Member

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    That's only because the states have been (even pre-COVID) neglecting the rights of the accused to a speedy trial.

    While there are many reasons for trial delays, it seems to me that reducing the time in legal limbo (regardless of bail) should have a higher priority. I have a relative out on bail in summer 2019 whose day in court has been postponed repeatedly - the latest delay will place their court date at close to 2 years post arrest. Their life is on hold until they know whether or not they are going to prison.
     
  8. Tax Counsel

    Tax Counsel Well-Known Member

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    The problem is that even putting the state to go to trial within the speedy trial deadline may still have the indigent suspect sitting in jail for several weeks or months, during which time his or her life may fall apart with loss of job, loss of a place to live, loss of vehicle, etc.

    I agree with that.
     
  9. Highwayman

    Highwayman Well-Known Member

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    I'm a little late to the party here... apologies.

    New York State has taken things too far. Criminal Justice Reform (more than just bail reform) took effect 1/1/20 and within a month or two we started seeing a lot of problems. Covid hit and it all took a backseat, but it's making news again.

    The big problem I have with it is that judges have NO discretion. They cannot take into account danger to the community or criminal history. For many offenses, including a few that I would consider violent, the defendant cannot be remanded and must be released.

    There was an example last year of a male who was arrested for a commercial burglary. He was out the same day. He was arrested for another commercial burglary later in the same week. He
    laughed when he was released and told the cops at the precinct "I'll just keep doing it again and again".

    Within that month he was arrested 5 or 6 times for commercial burglaries.

    Innocent until proven guilty is fine. But in cases like this businesses and individuals are paying a price which they shouldn't have to.
     
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  10. Redemptionman

    Redemptionman Active Member

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    Don't do the crime if you can't pay the line, or can't do the time.

    I have no sympathy for criminals. If you can not pay for the fine then don't commit crimes.

    It really is that simple, the bail system could be excessive to repeat offenders and those with large rap sheets. The whole habitual offender addendum were bail increases as you rack up offenses. What needs to be reformed? I believe people deserve a chance to redeem themselves but I mean come on, who wants to let people get out of jail free and go commit more crimes.
     
  11. flyingron

    flyingron Well-Known Member

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    You can't paint "US bail system" with a common brush. It varies widely across the country.
     
  12. Red Kayak

    Red Kayak Well-Known Member

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    And what you didn't do the crime?

    What if you have only been accused, and have not had your day in court?

    We have the standard of "presumed innocent" for a reason.
     
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  13. Redemptionman

    Redemptionman Active Member

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    Yeah and a third of the people in prison right not are "presumed innocent"

    You can be charged with anything, I get that
    You might not be able to afford an attorney, I get that
    You did something that someone said you did to be charged, I get that

    What you are talking about is equity, and I am of the opinion that you can should hire an attorney if you are falsely accused. Scrap, dig, do whatever it is you have to do to hire the right attorney. Don't ever go with a public defender unless you want to see county and by all means necessary do not talk to any one questioning you. When they read you your rights STHU and say attorney please.

    I have recording equipment on me all the time even on my vehicles, when I travel for a reason. I am not saying all police officers are bad but Training Day and Street Kings are more accurate than you would believe not really Hollywood fiction if you will.
     
  14. Red Kayak

    Red Kayak Well-Known Member

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    Not everyone is so privileged as you seem to assume.

    Nor should onus be on the person accused to prove their innocence.

    Just wait until it happens to you or your family.
     
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2021
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  15. Tax Counsel

    Tax Counsel Well-Known Member

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    Right. Not all cops are saints. Even the good cops make mistakes. The standard for arrest is low, simply probable cause. So the idea that if a person is arrested they must be guilty is BS. That's why the law presumes a person charged with a crime is innocent until he or she is proven guilty. Bail is supposed to be simply a way to ensure that the accused will show up for future court hearings. We should not be using bail as a way to keep persons accused of nonviolent offenses in jail pending trial simply because the person is too poor to put up the bail demanded. If that person is innocent, that pre-trial detention can be devastating. It's not right to inflict that on a person who is innocent, is it?

    Certainly for those accused of violent crimes we have the extra consideration of community safety to tackle. The person still has the presumption of innocence, but we also need to balance in that need for ensuring safety if the person is indeed violent. That's a tougher issue to resolve those two competing concerns.
     
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  16. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    The promise to appear is over the signature of the accused.

    Think about a traffic citation.

    The driver signs the citation and merely promises to appear in court to address the allegation(s).

    The cited driver isn't required to produce anything, other than her/his person as the court proceedings progress.

    Many states have allowed persons accused of minor crimes to do this, and the process appears to be gaining traction as other reforms are considered.

    As you suggested, electronic monitoring can also be used.

    However, most defendants are charged a fee for the monitor, must have a landline (in some cases a mobile phone can work), which fails to address the fact that many people are unable to pay the monitoring fees.

    Three years ago in Texas, ankle monitors put parolees at risk of debt and unemployment.

    The set-up fee for ankle monitors was between $175 and $200.

    The daily fee ranged anywhere from $5 to $40 a day.

    That amounted to $35 to $280 each week!!!

    Bear in mind that most convicted (released/paroled) felons have great difficulty finding jobs above the minimum wage.

    If one is earning $15/hour for a 40 hour work week, after taxes and other mandated deductions, one would be lucky to net (as in take home) $325 weekly!!!

    If the monitor company charged $280, the person would have less than $50/week remaining for living, commuting, medical, and other necessities!

    I remember the fees because I did (at the time) some pro bono work on behalf financially disadvantaged prison parolees.

    I'm sure that cost is much higher today.
     
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  17. Redemptionman

    Redemptionman Active Member

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    Yes that is true, officers do have discretion to issue citation for criminal complaints and then write it up later. The bigger system which leads to the issues you are complaining about is young prosecutors wanting to make a name for themselves so they tend to over charge, allow their police to dictate who and what they prosecute in order to get more federal dollars for their inflated crime statistics. They are more interested in making felony arrests than they are whether or not it sticks. Interested in making new felons not 3-10 time losers so that kind of makes them happy.

    I am friendly to the officers in my town and my brother actually went to High School with the Sheriff. I only fly places now due to the fact that I have been stopped in various cities that I am unfamiliar with and these could have gone bad. I did not feel safe so now I fly and uber everywhere. As far as any privilege, I have paid for every traffic offense I have ever been ticketed for some I have gotten out of and been dismissed. I do not know what the answer is, non violent people who are charged with misdemeanors should probably not be spending time in jail. However, where do you draw the line? Statistics show repeat offenders will commit crimes again and again once released regardless and by letting them off with a slap and no time is often counter productive.

    I am also aware of debtors prisons similar to what @army judge is referring to as I have seen certain cities annex larger pieces of land to incorporate a whole community in order to basically get their fine revenues. Messed up if you ask me.

    Some people are just no good and deserve to be locked up. Jail over crowding is another issue that will have to work itself out.
     
  18. flyingron

    flyingron Well-Known Member

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    Again, it varies highly from state to state. In many states, even felons can get released without any cash outlay. Here, unless you have a history of not appearing, you'll get released on unsecured bail. You don't have to fork over any security until after you miss an appearance.
     

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