A Brief History of Bail Bonds

The general idea of bail (the exchange of money or property for temporary release from jail while awaiting a trial) goes back centuries—to the 13th century in England, in fact. The idea at the time was to find a way to level the playing field for people accused of crimes, regardless of what class they were in.

The general idea remains the same today—bondsmen accept a certain percentage of the bail that’s needed and post the rest on behalf of a person charged with a crime while they await their trial. This system helps ensure that release from prison is not reserved only for those who have the sufficient money and property to put up for themselves—it’s become an opportunity both for entrepreneurs as well as people accused of crimes, and thus everyone benefits under an arrangement with a bail bondsman in Angleton.

Bail in the United States

Bail has been granted to American citizens accused of crimes since the country was first founded. Of course, there have been some changes to the bail system over time as the American criminal justice system has evolved.

Here are just a few examples of some of the instances that had a significant impact on the way bail bonds are used in this country:

  • Sixth Amendment: The Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees accused persons the right to a “speedy and public” trial, and that they will have the right to find witnesses to speak on their behalf and the ability to secure the services of an attorney. The amendment also allowed defendants to post bail, and established the presumption of innocence until proven guilty.
  • Eighth Amendment: While the Sixth Amendment enables bail, the Eighth Amendment prohibits excessive bail. The Supreme Court has gone into more detail with defining what constitutes “excessive” bail in the years since—in most cases, it’s any amount of money that is exponentially larger than what one would reasonably expect for the crime in question.
  • Bail Reform Act: The Bail Reform Act of 1966 gave accused people a statutory right to bail.
  • Additional legislation in 1984: The 1984 bail law clarified some of the provisions of the Bail Reform Act, as one of the main criticisms of the previous legislation was that the only time bail could be denied was if the defendant was deemed to be a flight risk. Under the adjustments made in 1984, some defendants were allowed to be denied bail if they were considered to be a risk to themselves, to their close family or friends or to the general public.

This gives you a general idea of the idea of bail and how it has evolved over the years here in the United States, and since its very early beginnings in 13th century England. For more information about the role played by a bail bondsman in Angleton and about the importance of bail in our criminal justice system, we encourage you to contact Brazoria County Bail Bonds with your questions.

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