Do you think that people charged with violent crimes such as assualt, rape, or murder should be allowed to post bail?
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In my opinion, this question has to be answered on a case by case basis. In general, however, the determining factor should be the level of risk that the defendant is likely to pose to the community at large if he or she is released.
One the one hand, it is important that Americans not be held for long periods of time without being convicted of a crime. Holding people who have not been convicted goes against the idea that a person must not be deprived of their liberty without the due process of law (5th Amendment).
On the other hand, it is the duty of the courts to minimize the risk that a criminal defendant will, while out on bail, commit a serious crime against a member of the public. Because of this, Congress has passed a law saying that defendants may be held without bail if they pose a threat to the safety of the community. The Supreme Court has upheld this law.
This is a hard issue because both sides have right on their side. On the whole, though, I tend to believe that it is right to hold people without bail if they have been accused of a serious violent crime and may pose a danger to the community.
According to the Bill of Rights of the United States of America, Amendment VI and Amendment VIII clearly state that a) every person has the right to a speedy trial by the jury of their peers and b) that bail should not be excessive.
Now, remember that nobody is guilty as charged. People are only guilty when there has been a due process in which enough evidence and a motif have been found beyond reasonable doubt.
This being said, no matter what one thinks, the most important thing is to always observe the mandates provided by our Constitution. Anything against it could lead to chaos. Whether you want people accused of assault, rape, or murder to be locked up immediately without a chance for bail, one has to abide by whatever the law of the country dictates.
Now, since you are asking about a personal opinion my answer would still be that everyone should be allowed to post bail, and this is why:
If you are falsely accused of rape, or you have just committed statutory rape (which can occur between a 21 year old and an 18 year old in some states), you would be taken to jail without bail and heaven knows what could happen to you once inside.
If you have committed an involuntary manslaughter as a result of something beyond your control, that would still count as a murder case in the eyes of many. If you didn't have the right to post bail, again, your fate may be sour.
Yet, if I find that a person with a PATTERN of assault, abuse, rape,or murder has been finally caught there is absolutely no reason to let this person back in the community. That is when the bail should be equivalent to the damages the person caused. And, in cases of assault, battery, abuse, rape, and murder the damages both psychological and physical are beyond anything money could repair.
The Eighth Amendment to the Constitution states "Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel or unusual punishment inflicted. Regardless of the impressions created on a number of television shows, the only issues to be considered in whether a defendant is allowed to post bail is the seriousness of the offense, the likelihood of conviction, and whether or not the defendant poses a security risk. If he/she owns property in the area and has substantial roots in the community, he is not likely to flee, and therefore Bail is appropriate. However if he is transient, or the crime is so serious that he might abandon all connections, then bail should be denied. In my state, the only uniform instance in which bail is denied is if the potential sentence is life imprisonment, or death. Under your inquiry, one charged with Murder might not be entitled to bail; rape and assault would be a different issue. It is important to note that each case must be judged on a case by case basis.
I don't like to tie the hands of judges in criminal courts. I think one-size-fits-all legal approaches to complex cases that defy such categorization is both foolish and unjust. In our system of justice, prosecutors have to demonstrate flight risk or the seriousness of a charge in order for bail to be denied. We have this stipulation for a reason. If it sometimes takes more than a year before a case can come to trial, that's too long for someone who has not been convicted of a crime to sit in jail, unless reasonable cause has been demonstrated, and that's what we hire judges to determine.
Like it or not we have to allow everyone the opportunity to have bail posted. As someone else has mentioned we have to follow the laws set forth in our Constitution. If we start doing this outside the Constitution we have made it worthless.
I think it should depend on the circumstances in which the crime was committed. Any kind of absolute would be dangerous. For example, some rape cases are he said/she said. Some murders are not really murders at all, but rather self-defense or an innocent person in the wrong place at the wrong time that appears guilty. Assault can also occur under a variety of different circumstances. Painting all scenarios with the same brush will result in injustice.
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