The Right to Bail
Date Published: July 5, 2018
United State Constitution: Eighth Amendment (VIII). Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted
The Eighth Amendment of the United States Constitution prohibits the federal government from imposing excessive bail, excessive fines, or cruel and unusual punishments. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that this amendment's Cruel and Unusual Punishment Clause also applies to the states. What the Supreme Court has never ruled on is exactly what “excessive bail” means. Does it even mean that an accused person has a right to bail? There are those that argue that the right to bail is guaranteed, but what about the right of safety for the community? If a person is deemed truly dangerous, should they be allowed bail? It’s important to note that in many state constitutions, there is an explicit right to bail in non-capital criminal proceedings. That is not true of the Mississippi Constitution, however the Mississippi Supreme Court has issued Criminal Court Rules that seems to require release provided that the defendant is not a danger to society.
So, what does all of that mean for you or your loved one in Mississippi? It’s about as clear as the Mississippi River! If the crime a person is not heinous and it’s not a capital offense – meaning they can face life imprisonment or the death penalty – they should have a bond set in their case. Of course, that’s provided that they’re not already out on bond or that they have not been previously convicted of the same offense. One thing is for sure, they need to hire a competent criminal attorney who can represent them. That’s the best way to make sure that a bond is set and that their interests are properly represented. While there are public defenders available, always remember who is paying that public defender. Think about all of the other people that public defender may be trying to represent. Bottom line: You get what you pay for. Always. Always hire your own attorney.
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