October 17, 2020

Bail in America: A History

Bail in America: A History


Home Blog Bail Bonds A Brief History of Bail in the United States

October 17, 2020  |  Posted by Balboa Bail Bonds Team  |  Bail Bonds

Bail has had a long history in the United States of America. In fact, the institution is actually older than the country itself, potentially dating back over a thousand years to early England. It was originally meant to protect the peace, and bail bond agents back then were just friends who promised to pay if the person out on bail decided to try and flee. However, our country didn’t start officially practicing bail until a full decade after it established its independence in 1776.

Bail Law in 1789

The very first official bail law in America was the Judiciary Act of 1789. While bail was practiced before this law was passed, there had yet to be any legal stance taken on it by the American government. The Judiciary Act of 1789 officially established that bail must be set for all crimes that were not currently punishable by death. This means that everyone not facing a serious crime, such as murder, had to have the opportunity to leave jail and return home.

The First Bondsman in America

However, the passing of the 1789 bail law did not mean that bail was an active industry in America yet. It took another century for the very first bondsman to become established. In 1898, the very first bail bond agent established himself right here in the state of California, where we at Balboa Bail Bonds operate to this day! This bondsman set up shop in San Francisco. It wasn’t long before the rest of the country realized how helpful this industry could be, and so bondsman and bail bond agencies were popping up all around the country.

Bail Reformation in 1966

While bail was still legally required for any crime that was not considered too serious, there had not been any guidelines established by the federal government for what bail should look like up until the passing of the Bail Reform Act of 1966. This new law created the presumption of release, meaning that people accused of crimes would now be released freely, rather than have to be held unless they posted bail. Bail was first established with the idea that if people had to pay the court, then they were less likely to flee. The passing of the 1966 laws made it so that alleged criminal could freely leave under the assumption that they would choose to return on their own without any incentive. While the release could be rebutted with proper evidence that the defendant would likely flee the court, if the judge felt the evidence was insufficient, then the alleged criminal would still be allowed out.

The 1984 Bail Reform Act

That philosophy did not stand long, however. In fact, it was less than two decades later that the government passed the Comprehensive Crime Control Act of 1984. While it was still possible that someone convicted of a crime could be let out without posting bail, the courts would also take into consideration whether the alleged criminal was a threat to the community. This means that a judge had freer rein to decide whether someone was trustworthy and whether they would show up for their trial. At this point, bail was not only to give people incentive to show up for their trial, but also to protect the public at large in case the defendant was a menace to society and dangerous to others.

California Bail Systems in the Modern Age

Currently, California bail law operates much as it did in the 1980s. Those arrested can be released without bail if the judge involved feels they are trustworthy enough to not flee and are not a danger to the community. If the judge feels that bail is necessary to guarantee that the defendant shows up at their trial, then they use the bail schedule to determine how much bail is required for the defendant to be released.

However, there are also efforts to end cash bail altogether. In place of this system, a judge will decide whether someone’s alleged crime and flight risk warrant keeping them in jail or if they should be released. This new bid to go back to the 1960s may be incredibly dangerous. After all, there is a reason why we went back to the current system in 1984. Bail is not just about protecting the community, but also for ensuring that defendants have an incentive to stay in the area and not attempt to flee their trial.

We at Balboa Bail Bonds understand the importance of bail, and that is why we have dedicated our careers to it. We help those who are facing arrest in California, both by offering expert support and by providing bail at an affordable price. With our low 10% premium and flexible payment plan, the average person can afford bail while also ensuring that the court has the promise that they will not flee their trial. If you have been arrested in California, you are likely in need of a helping hand. Call our agency at (619) 760-2222 and talk with a skilled bail bond agent today!



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