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The Basics of Bail: Part 2

In my last article, I explained the different kinds of bail bonds that permit an accused to be released from jail pending trial. The most important aspect of bail is how the court is supposed to set the type and amount of bond to assure the accused’s appearance in court. Ohio law provides that a judge must consider the following factors in setting bail bond: 1. Nature and circumstances of the crime charged, and specifically whether the defendant used or had access to a weapon; 2.Weight of the evidence against the defendant; 3.Confirmation of the defendant’s identity; 4.Defendant’s family ties, financial resources, character, mental condition, length of residence in the community, jurisdiction of residence, record of convictions, record of court appearance or flight; and 5.Whether the defendant is on probation, a community-control sanction, parole, post-release control, parole, post-release control, bail, or under a court protection order. When reviewing these factors, it is sometimes difficult to believe that the accused is presumed innocent until proven guilty. Factor 2 provides that the judge may consider the amount of evidence against an accused even before a trial! But factor 2 is not the primary factor in determining bail bond, the primary factor is number 1: the more serious the crime, the higher the bail bond. The public expects high bonds for serious crimes because the public believes that the accused is guilty or they wouldn’t have been arrested in the first place. Since judges are elected, they must pay attention to public perception. So a process that is supposed to determine how best...

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The Basics of Bail: Part 1

An initial hurdle to cross in criminal defense is how to obtain an accused person’s release from jail pending trial. The accused must “post bail.” The image from movies is a bail bondsman, with a neon-lighted office near the jail taking money from the accused’s family and warning the accused that Dog the Bounty Hunter will be looking for him if he “skips bail.” The reality is different, and a bit more complicated. First, what is the purpose of bail? Simply, bail assures the accused’s appearance as required in court. There are three general types of bail: recognizance, “10%,” and surety. Recognizance bail often referred to as release on your “own recognizance” or “O.R.” or “personal recognizance” or “P.R.” is where the accused promises to appear for court without giving any money to guarantee the appearance. The accused agrees to be liable for an amount of money if they fail to appear for court. Recognizance bail is a real benefit to an accused who can be released from custody without depositing or posting money with the court clerk. However, there is a stiff penalty for failing to appear when you are released on recognizance: if the underlying charge is a felony, failure to appear on recognizance bond is a separate felony in itself! And this is a felony that is easy for the prosecutor to prove: the case was called for hearing and the accused was not there. “10% bail” acknowledges that most bail bondsmen charge a 10% non-refundable premium to deposit bail for an accused....

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