What Is Excessive Bail?

What Is Excessive Bail?

Bail is a method by which a defendant provides assurances to a court that they will appear when scheduled for hearings concerning their criminal matter. Sometimes, bail may be considerably high – in some cases, it may be tens of thousands to millions of dollars. When seeing bail set at such steep amounts, many people might wonder what exactly is considered excessive.

Bail Must Be Reasonable

The Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution provides, in part, that "excessive bail shall not be required." However, it does not explicitly state what amount of bail is considered too high.

Over the years, the U.S. Supreme Court has considered this question. In United States v. Salerno, 481 U.S. (1987), it concluded that bail is excessive when the amount is more than necessary to prevent the defendant from fleeing or posing a danger to society. It also stated that the Eighth Amendment does not limit the factors a court can consider when setting bail amounts.

In Ohio, under O.R.C. 2937.23, judges consider several things when setting bail, which include:

  • The nature and seriousness of the offense;
  • The defendant's criminal history; and
  • The likelihood of the defendant fleeing before trial

Judges must set bail so that it imposes the least restrictive conditions upon the defendant. Thus, while some defendants may have their bail set at certain amounts, others may not be required to pay bail at all. When a person is released from jail without having to post bail, this is referred to as being released on own recognizance. Typically, this occurs in cases involving minor offenses and when the judge determines that the defendant will show up to their scheduled hearings without putting up monetary assurances.

Denial of Bail

Although the Eighth Amendment protects defendants from being subject to excessive bail amounts, it does not specifically provide that bail must be granted. Thus, in some cases, a defendant may be denied bail altogether.

In Ohio, before bail is set or denied, a hearing will be held to determine if the defendant is eligible for pre-trial release.

According to O.R.C. 2937.222, generally, bail may be denied if a defendant has been charged with:

  • Aggravated murder (not a capital offense);
  • Murder;
  • A first- or second-degree felony;
  • Vehicular homicide/manslaughter;
  • Felony menacing by stalking; or
  • Felony OVI

Before denying bail in such cases, the judge must determine that clear and convincing evidence shows that:

  • There is proof the defendant committed the alleged crime;
  • The defendant poses a serious risk of danger to others or the community; and
  • No pre-trial release condition will assure that the defendant does not harm anyone else or the community

For assistance with the bail bond process, contact Andy Callif Bail Bonds at (614) 945-4334. Since 1960, we've been a family-owned and operated company in Columbus committed to helping individuals get released from jail.

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