In some recent blogs, we detailed seven reasons a judge might deny someone bail. If the judge takes a look at the evidence and thinks that the accused might be violent or has reasons to skip bail, then they might deny them bail. And if a person is already out on bail and gets in trouble with the law again, it’s likely that the judge won’t trust them a second time with freedom and will deny them bail.
The fact is, most people who have been arrested will have a bail amount set by a judge. In the majority of circumstance, judges decide that the person can be released if they provide bail money, whether the accused pays it themselves or they utilize a bail bond service. But that invites the question: won’t some of the people released on bail head out and do more bad things, hurting individuals and society as a whole? Wouldn’t it just be better to keep everyone in jail until their court date? After all, then no one could ever skip bail and they’d have to be there for their court date.
There are actually quite a few reasons that the bail system has been set up. Let’s take a look at why so many people are allowed out on bail bonds.
The Sixth Amendment
Let’s lead with the reason that can be pretty hard to argue against: The Sixth Amendment of the United States Constitution, which states: “[i]n all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy trial.” You can imagine why it would be important for someone to get a speedy trial, because those who were forming our country had seen people arrested and simply keep in jail without ever being given a trial.
A speedy trial isn’t always possible, though. The court system is very busy, with arraignments, trials, and retrials. Court dates can be set for months out, and trials can last a year or more. What satisfies the definition of “speedy trial” has been debated for as the Constitution has been in effect, but nearly everyone agrees that a court date set months out for stealing a piece of jewelry wouldn’t be considered “speedy.”
That’s where the bail system comes in. By releasing someone, you’re not keeping them in jail for an undue amount of time. Tying them monetarily to their release by having them pay bail or securing a bail bond is a way to ensure that they show up for their court date. Yes, being released on bail is a compromise for the Sixth Amendment, and will certainly be argued for as long as our country exists. But it’s a compromise that most people can live with.
While we’re on the subject of timing, it’s important to realize that not everyone is looking for a speedy trial. A trial that is three months away gives someone time to properly prepare their defense, while a trial that is a week away wouldn’t. And for someone who plans on pleading guilty, it gives them more time to get their affairs in order before incarceration.
The idea of presumed innocence, more often called “being innocent until proven guilty” by most people, has been around for a long time. The earliest place it has been found is in the writings of 6th-century Roman law, which stated: “Proof lies on him who asserts, not on him who denies.”
But such an idea is not in the US Constitution as the right to a speedy trial is. Presumption of innocence, however, is an important part of many legal processes throughout the country and is law in many states. It’s also a part of Article 11 of the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Without a doubt, there are some people who are arrested who are completely innocent. These people certainly shouldn’t sit in jail for months awaiting a trial in which they’ll be found innocent. (For those who are guilty, it still plays an important part as we’ll discuss below.)
As bail bondsmen, it is not our place to judge whether or not someone deserves bail or not. Once the judge sets bail, we play an important role in the legal system by offering a bail bond to people who can’t afford to post bail on their own. By providing the entirety of the bail money for a fee, people get out who would normally spend the entire time before their court appearance in jail.
As we mentioned before, a speedy trial can actually be a detriment to some people. Once someone is out thanks to the help of a bail bond company, they have a lot to do. If they meet with their lawyer provided by the state and find them lacking, they might have to find a new lawyer. But even that new lawyer might not be giving them the level of service to mount a proper defense, so the accused can actually play a part in finding witnesses or gathering pictorial evidence. Someone who is in jail would never have the opportunity to help with their own case beyond short meetings with the lawyer.
There’s another kind of preparation to think about: preparing for prison. People who know that they are guilty might take a plea deal, so they know well in advance that they’ll be going away for a while. Being out on bail allows them to get their affairs in order, such as leaving their job on good terms and making sure that family members have access to any money they might have.
The Cost of Jail
A lot is said about the insane amount that the United States spends on prisons, and its a real concern. But that cost is usually covered at the federal and state level, which makes it a more difficult for people to wraps their heads around.
Conversely, the cost to run a jail around here directly affects the towns, cities, and counties in Honolulu and on O’ahu. It’s hard enough for them to cover the cost of running a jail for the people who have been denied bail, considering the cost of labor (such as police officers and guards) and physical care (such as electricity, food, and water). If no one was granted bail, those costs would probably increase 20-fold.
When people are granted bail, they are released and take care of their own needs while awaiting trial. By doing so, they’re taking a huge burden off a legal system that would otherwise have to support them through the trial.
Of course, when people are paying for their own food and toiletries, there’s another bonus that occurs…
They Support the Economy
When people are locked away, they’re not just costing the local economy by being in jail…they’re taking away their labor and spending power away from it. A person in jail isn’t paying rent to a landlord, buying snacks or gas at Hele, supporting restaurants, or providing the city with any money in the form of taxes. When people are in jail, they’re also not creating anything that helps the local economy, whether they’re in banking or in a manufacturing job.
They Support Their Families
When someone has posted bail and is not in jail, it’s not just the local economy that they’re helping; they’re also out so that they can support their families. People who need a bail bond company come from every economic level, so being out on bail for the months leading up to their trial allows them to return to their families and keep some sort of normalcy in their lives. It not only gives them time to make more money for the family, but also allows them to make lifestyle adjustments to secure their family’s future should the trial not go their way.
Why Let Them Out?
We get it, the human desire for justice can make it easy to think “everyone should be locked up until after the trial.” But that’s not only impractical and expensive; it’s against the Constitution. It’s also just humane to let any wrongfully-accused people be out until the trail. Plus it’s humane to let anyone who is guilty get their affairs in order, because their families deserve some time to prepare for the incarceration of a breadwinner.
Not everyone can afford the entire bail amount, and that’s where a bail bond company such as Wanna Get Out Bail Bonds comes in. Our bondsman can help you post bail so that you can be out until your trial date. Once you’re out, we hope you make the most of your time.