As a result of California’s recent bail reform, many people are taking a closer look at the judicial system as it relates to bail bonds and the release of defendants pretrial. Although bail reformation is a complex subject with hugely impactful outcomes on either side of the coin, we hope to shed some light in this article about why the bail bond system has been used for centuries.
While traces of what we call today “bail” are found more than 1,500 years ago, we will focus on more recent history. Before laws were put into place in attempts to make the bail system as fair as possible, injustices were taking place where people in certain positions had too much power over cash bail bonds. It was also ambiguous who would be allowed to bail out and have freedom and who would remain detained.
In 1275 the English Parliament enacted the Statute of Westminister to establish governance for the bail system. It is at this point we see the judicial system examining the nature of the charge, weight of the evidence collected thus far, and the character of the accused (such as their criminal record). Today, judges take these aspects into consideration when deciding the bailability of a defendant.
Release over Detention
Typically, an individual is free to post bail and be released from jail before their court date unless they have a detainer or warrant, or they are found to be a danger to themselves or others. Many laws have been passed over the years, most of which were aimed at bolstering the rights of the accused and making sure people who were charged with bailable offenses were able to post bail and gain freedom pretrial.
America adopted many of England’s bail processes but it is clear that even from the beginning it has been important to the American people that individuals charged with a crime be free of detention pretrial whenever it is reasonably safe to do so. Early Americans began to incorporate the bail bond system where a small portion of the bail amount (as part of a bond) is paid in order to be released, but the bulk of the bail amount would not be due unless a person fails to appear at their court hearing.
American Cornerstone Bail Laws
The Judiciary Act of 1789
One of the first pieces of American legislation addressing bail is the Judiciary Act of 1789. This federal statute was signed into law by President George Washington and seen by its creators as a work in progress. Previously, bail was only briefly described in general terms in the US Constitution.
This initial legislation established the Judicial Courts with district courts, circuit courts, and the Supreme Court. The law also stated that all noncapital offenses or those offenses that do not carry the death penalty are bail-able.
Bail Reform Act of 1966
The US Congress passed a Bail Reform Act in 1966 which added more protections for the people. This law was written in a way that allowed for the release of defendants with as little financial burden as possible.
Bail Reform Act of 1984
The Bail Reform Act of 1984 replaced the 1966 law, with improvements for the safety of the public. The original Bail Reform Act of 1966 had unfortunately allowed many dangerous suspects to receive bail as long as they weren’t considered a flight risk.
The 1984 reformed law states that defendants shall be held until trial if they are judged to be a danger to the community. It also established categories of defendants who could be denied the option of being released with bail. Such defendants are those who have been charged with serious crimes, repeat offenders, possibly dangerous, and those who may be a flight risk.
It is clear that the bail bond system in America was created and has been refined in order to balance freedom of the people and safety of the public. The State of California has recently enacted a new bail reform of its own, however this appears to have undue effects for the safety of our communities and criminal justice. At Frank Calabretta’s Bail House we envision a future where a balanced judicial system serves the entire community.
If you or your loved one needs to post bail and get out of jail fast, call us for anytime bail bonds at (916) 782-7048 and one of our experienced, friendly bail bond agents will be happy to help. We have been serving our community in Placer County and surrounding areas for over 40 years!