The United States Constitution provides several rights for those accused of crimes within our country. The founding fathers wanted to ensure that the federal and state governments could not become corrupt and violate a person’s civil liberties without facing repercussions.
One of the rights that many people may only become familiar with after they or a family member is arrested is the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution. This amendment guarantees the government cannot impose excessive bail, and it also prevents cruel and unusual punishment. Many people become confused when someone is held without bail, so it is important to know some nuances of the Eighth Amendment.
The Eighth Amendment was part of the Bill of Rights, which was adopted in 1791, but this is not where the idea of reasonable bail was originally conceived. Sheriffs in England were allowed to decide whether or not a person could be bailed out of jail, but they often abused this power. In 1275, the English Parliament thought it solved this problem by specifying which crimes were bailable and which ones were not.
The King of England then began subverting this law and claimed that he had the right to hold people in jails without bail at will. The back and forth between executive officers and the legislative body of England continued until 1689 when the English Bill of Rights stated that excessive bail shouldn’t be required. Americans brought this basic idea to the New World with them, and once they gained their freedom they held onto many laws that had made England a great nation.
What it Means Today
Many people wonder how the 8th Amendment applies to the modern day world. Some are surprised when they see TV shows where defendants are remanded without bail, thinking that this is a violation of the Constitution. Unfortunately for some people accused of crimes, it is not. The Eighth Amendment only guarantees that courts cannot set excessive bail; it does not, however, state that bail is required.
America in general requires high bail amounts that many people find excessive, creating the need for bail bond agencies and bounty hunters. It is obvious that America is different than other countries in its view of “excessive bail,” demonstrated by the fact that it is one of the few countries in the world where bounty hunting is actually legal.
There are numerous times when a person may be denied bail. If the Court believes a person presents a serious threat to others if they are released, then it is their duty to hold the person in jail. Bail is meant to ensure that a person returns for their court date, so if a judge believes there is no bail amount that will guarantee a person’s return, they can deny bail outright. For instance, this can be the case if someone is accused of a crime that could bring the death penalty if convicted. As mentioned previously, bail amounts in America are exceptionally high, but if a person feels their Eighth Amendment rights are being violated, they should contact a bail bond agent and lawyer as soon as possible.
The Eighth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution is meant to protect those accused of crimes from corrupt governments. This amendment has been running through our forefather’s blood since before America became a nation. Just because the government cannot impose excessive bail on a person, however, does not mean that they must grant bail. A person who feels their rights are being violated will never be noticed if they do not speak up.