A Brief History of Bail Bonds

1 Feb, 2017//Posted by : aebbvelocityloca//Category : blog

Today, many people take for granted the fact that affordable San Diego bail bonds are readily available. However, most people know very little about the history of bail bonds, and the role that they played in helping to improve the fundamental fairness in criminal justice systems both ancient and modern. The concept of posting securities in order to gain release from jail pending trial is over 4,000 years old. Clay tablets from the Akkadian city of Eshnunna, created around 2750 B.C., documented the process of a defendant posting securities to guarantee his appearance in court. Later, codified systems establishing a defendant’s right to bail evolved in both England and the United States.

Bail in England

As far back as the 13th century, English courts allowed a defendant to post securities to ensure his appearance in court. However, generally, only the wealthy could afford to post the amount of bail demanded by the courts. This left everyone else to languish in prison pending their trials. Fortunately, some enterprising entrepreneurs understood that if they had enough capital they could profit from this situation. These early bail bondsman would put up the money for bail and charge the defendant a fee as interest on their money. This type of system continues today.

The lawmakers in England recognized the important role that the bail process played in protecting citizens’ rights to be treated fairly by the judicial system and enacted statutory protections to preserve a defendant’s right to bail in most cases. The Habeas Corpus Act of 1677 granted magistrates the authority to establish bail in the cases pending before them. In 1689, the English Bill of Rights provided for further protection of individual rights by prohibiting “excessive bail.”

Bail in the United States

In the United States, the founding fathers recognized the importance of a defendant’s right to bail pending trial, and they they took measures to ensure that the right to bail was protected under law in America. The Eighth Amendment of the United States Constitution explicitly prohibits courts from imposing excessive bail on defendants pending trial. It should be noted that the Eight Amendment does not guarantee a defendant the right to bail. It simply requires that if bail is granted, that it should not be of an excessive amount.

The Congress of the United States extended further protections of a defendant’s right to bail in criminal cases. The Judiciary Act of 1789 guaranteed a defendant’s right to bail in all cases except those cases that involved a capital offense. Since a conviction for a capital offense could result in the defendant receiving the death penalty, the decision of whether or not to grant bail was left to the judges discretion. Subsequently, centuries of state and federal case laws have further defined the boundaries of a defendant’s right to bail in the United States.

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