Bail Bonds

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Bail Bonds The principle of bail is basic to our system of justice and its practice as old as English law itself. When the administration of criminal justice was in its infancy, arrest for serious crime meant imprisonment without preliminary hearing and long periods of time could occur between apprehension and the arrival of the King's Justices to hold court. It was therefore a matter of utmost importance to a person under arrest to be able to obtain a provisional release from custody until his case was called. This was also the desideratum of the medieval sheriff, the representative of the Crown in criminal matters, who wore many hats including that of bailing officer. He preferred the conditional release of persons under arrest to their imprisonment for several reasons: it was less costly and troublesome; the jails were easy to breach and under then existing law the Jailer was hanged if a prisoner escaped; the jails were dangerous to health, and as there was no provision for adequate food, many prisoners perished before trial was held Purpose Of Bail - 2Influenced by factors such as these, the sheriff was inclined to discharge himself of responsibility for persons awaiting trial by handing them into the personal custody of their friends and relatives. Indeed, in its strict sense, the word "bail" is used to describe the person who agrees to act assuredly for the accused on his release from jail and becomes responsible for his later appearance in court at the time designated. As surety, the bail was liable under the law for any default in the accused's appearance. Purpose Of Bail - 3Between the 13th and 15thcenturies the sheriff's power to admit to bail was gradually vested, by a series of statutes, in the justices of the peace. In the case of a person committed for felony, the justices of the peace had the authority to require, if they thought fit, his remaining in jail until the trial took place, but, on the other hand, a person committed for a misdemeanor case could, at common law, insist on being released on bail if he found sufficient sureties. Writing in the mid-1700's, Blackstone described the arrest-bail procedure his day in the following passage: "When a delinquent is arrested...he ought regularly to be carried before a justice of the peace...If upon...inquiry it manifestly appears that either no such crime was committed or that the suspicion entertained of the prisoner as wholly groundless, in such cases only it is lawful totally to discharge him.

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