Bail Bond Law

New Bail Bond Law in Connecticut regarding Bail Bond Fees

Sec. 3. (NEW) (Effective October 1, 2011) (a) No surety bail bond agent shall execute a bail bond without charging the premium rate approved by the commissioner pursuant to chapter 701 of the general statutes.

Bail

Traditionally, bail is some form of property deposited or pledged to a court in order to persuade it to release an accused from jail, on the understanding that the accused will return for trial or forfeit the bail (“skipping bail”, or “jumping bail”, is also illegal).  In some countries, including the US, granting bail is common. In others, depending upon the court and the accusations, bail is not always available. Countries without bail imprison the accused before the trial only if deemed necessary.

Legislatures also set out certain crimes to be unbailable, such as capital crimes or in some cases premeditated murder.

Connecticuts Constitution requires Bail to be set on all bonds.

Under the current law of England and Wales, bail simply refers to the release of the accused before trial.

Forms of Bail

The form of bail varies from jurisdiction, but the common forms of bail include:

  • Recognizance — a promise made by the accused to the court that said person will attend all required judicial proceedings and will not engage in further illegal activity or other prohibited conduct as set by the court. Typically a monetary amount is set by the court, but is not paid by the defendant unless it is forfeited by the court. Other forms of punishment, such as imprisonment, may still be levied by the court for those failing to appear when required.
  • Surety — when a third party agrees to be responsible for the debt or obligation of the defendant. In many jurisdictions this service is provided commercially by a bail bondsman, where the agent will receieve 10% of the bail amount up front and will keep said amount regardless if the defendant appears in court. The court in many jurisdictions, especially jurisdictions that prohibit bail bondsmen, may demand a certain amount of the total bail (typically 10%) be given to the court, which, unlike with bail bondsmen, is returned if the defendant does not violate the conditions of bail.
  • Cash — typically “cash only”, where the defendant must provide the amount of the bail to the court.

In many jurisdictions the defendant can post bail either by cash and/or surety.

Bail Law in the United States

In pre-independence America, bail law was based on English law. Some of the colonies simply guaranteed their subjects the protections of British law. In 1776, after the Declaration of Independence, those which had not already done so, enacted their own versions of bail law.

Section 9 of Virginia’s 1776 Constitution states “excessive bail ought not to be required…” In 1785, the following was added, “Those shall be let to bail who are apprehended for any crime not punishable in life or limb…But if a crime be punishable by life or limb, or if it be manslaughter and there be good cause to believe the party guilty thereof, he shall not be admitted to bail.”

Section 29 of the Pennsylvania Constitution of 1776 states “Excessive bail shall not be exacted for bailable offenses”.

The Eighth Amendment in the US Federal Bill of Rights is derived from the Virginia Constitution, “Excessive bail shall not be required…”, in regard to which Samuel Livermore commented, “The clause seems to have no meaning to it, I do not think it necessary. What is meant by the term excessive bail…?!”

The Sixth Amendment, to the Constitution, like the English Habeas Corpus Act of 1678, requires that a suspect must “be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation” and thus enabling a suspect to demand bail if accused of a bailable offence.

The Judiciary Act of 1789

In 1789, the same year that the Bill of Rights was introduced, Congress passed the Judiciary Act of 1789. This specified which types of crimes were bailable and set bounds on a judge’s discretion in setting bail. The Act states that all non-capital crimes are bailable and that in capital cases the decision to detain a suspect, prior to trial, was to be left to the judge.

The Judiciary Act states, “Upon all arrests in criminal cases, bail shall be admitted, except where punishment may be by death, in which cases it shall not be admitted but by the supreme or a circuit court, or by a justice of the supreme court, or a judge of a district court, who shall exercise their discretion therein.”

The Bail Reform Act of 1966

In 1966, Congress enacted the Bail Reform Act of 1966 which states that a non-capital defendant is to be released, pending trial, on his personal recognizance or on personal bond, unless the judicial officer determines that such incentives will not adequately assure his appearance at trial. In that case, the judge must select an alternative from a list of conditions, such as restrictions on travel. Individuals charged with a capital crime, or who have been convicted and are awaiting sentencing or appeal, are to be released unless the judicial officer has reason to believe that no conditions will reasonably assure that the person will not flee or pose a danger. In non-capital cases, the Act does not permit a judge to consider a suspect’s danger to the community, only in capital cases or after conviction is the judge authorized to do so.

The 1966 Act was particularly criticized within the District of Columbia, where all crimes formerly fell under Federal bail law. In a number of instances, persons accused of violent crimes committed additional crimes when released on their personal recognizance. These individuals were often released yet again.

The Judicial Council committee recommended that, even in non-capital cases, a person’s dangerousness should be considered in determining conditions for release. Criminal Law and Procedure: D.C. Court Reform and Criminal Procedure Act of 1970 allowed judges to consider dangerousness and risk of flight when setting bail in non capital cases.

Current Bail Law

In 1984 Congress replaced the Bail Reform Act of 1966 with new bail law, codified at United States Code, Title 18, Sections 3141-3150.

New State laws in Connecticut

“AN ACT CONCERNING SURETY BAIL BOND AGENTS AND PROFESSIONAL BONDSMEN.”


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