From Los Banos, CA to the Constitution: Bail Bonds and Your Rights
In Los Banos, CA like everywhere, people end up in jail. Your legal rights in America are especially relevant at the time of arrest, when citizens directly interact with the police force and the criminal justice system, but are you familiar with what gives you your right to bail? Bail, money pledged by an accused person as a guarantee of their appearance in court, is a constitutional right that is guaranteed to arrested citizens provided they fit certain conditions. But it’s more than just a legal hoop you have to go through to get your court date, it has a long and complicated history that ensures you are fairly tried.
Bail is guaranteed to United States citizens in state constitutions across the country, but the Eighth Amendment prohibits any government from charging an accused person excessive bail, and it’s a constitutional amendment, so it applies to the whole country. What’s considered excessive depends on the accused person, their ability to pay it back, and the likelihood of the accused repeating the offense. For example, one real estate heir was once charged a bail of three billion dollars, and the accused’s lawyer successfully appealed the bail for being excessive, and it was dropped down to a measly 450,000 dollars.
While it’s unlikely that any Los Banos, CA judge would charge you bail of 3 billion dollars, you’re still protected under the Bill of Rights against such an excessively high amount, and the history of that right is very interesting.
The right to bail originates from the English Bill of Rights in 1689, which served as a model for the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution. The Eighth Amendment prohibits excessive bail (among other things), and was put into place after American independence from Britain, because during colonial days British judges would sometimes set excessively high bail fines as a way to punish an accused person and keep them from organizing a good defense before their trial. Americans resented the obstruction of justice, and as a result, the 8th Amendment was added to the Constitution.
As a result, you as a citizen are ensured the right to a bail that is fair and appropriate to your crime, and if a judge is in violation of this law, in Los Banos, CA or anywhere else, a lawyer can challenge the bail and take it to a higher court. Hypothetically, it could be appealed all the way up to the Supreme Court because it’s a constitutional right.
The 14th Amendment to the Constitution forbids state governments from denying someone “life, liberty or property, without due process of law,” a right which includes the right to reasonable bail. The Due Process Clause, as it’s called, is what gives you your right to reasonable bail through the 8th amendment, is what guarantees you the right to have bail at all, reasonable or otherwise.
The history of bail and your constitutional right to reasonable bail bonds has a long history, and we’ve come a long way from Colonial America to modern Los Banos, CA but we can all benefit from our right to reasonable bail and due process. Whether you’re looking for a small bail or whether you’re a real estate heir, come check out At Last Bail, and exercise your constitutional right to due process.
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