Posting bail allows defendants accused of criminal offenses to be released from jail pending the resolution of their cases. Bail is routinely granted to most offenders and if an offender cannot afford the bail amount, he or she can turn to a bail bond agent in Upper Marlboro. A bail bondsman can arrange for the defendant’s release in exchange for a fee. Because the process of setting and posting bail is routine, it’s often assumed that practically all defendants have a constitutional right to obtain release on bail. This is partially true.
The Founding Fathers of America believed strongly in personal freedom. The Bill of Rights was added to the Constitution to protect certain individual freedoms, such as the right of a person to retain his or her freedom until he or she was proven guilty. To reinforce the idea of “innocent until proven guilty,” the Eighth Amendment prohibits judges from requiring excessive bail or setting excessive fines. Of course, the Bill of Rights does not specify exactly what would be considered excessive bail for various criminal offenses. This is subject to interpretation and there are reasonable exceptions to the right to bail.
When a defendant goes before a judge at an arraignment hearing, the judge will consider the basic facts of the case and the history of the defendant to determine whether to set bail and if so, how much the bail payment should be. In certain cases, the nature of the crime is considered to be so heinous that bail is denied. For example, although accused serial killers and terrorists are technically innocent until proven guilty, the nature and severity of these crimes counteract the normal right to bail. In other cases, a judge may set very high bail in the interests of public safety. When determining whether bail is excessive or not, the judge may consider the financial resources of the family and the community ties of the defendant. If the family has vast financial resources and the defendant has minimal ties to the community, then the bail amount may be more likely to be higher than usual.