Did you know that you can be put in jail in Connecticut before you have been convicted of a crime?

Bail and bond reform is getting bi-partican support in Washington from Senator Rand Paul (Rep., KY) and Senator Kamala Harris (Dem., CA).  The two Sentators argue that the current system is unfair to poor people, and minorities.  They believe the system could be improved throught use of research based criteria to better evaluate the risk of flight and to set bail accordinly.  It is time for reform.

What is bail and bond in Connecticut?

If you are arrested for a crime in Connecticut, the law allows the government to hold you in jail until trial.  But if they do, you have the right to get out of jail pending the trial if you post bail.  The bail must be reasonable.  Posting bail means you gauranty to forfeit money or property if you flee the state, or don't show up for your trial.  

What is the purpose of bail or bond in Connecticut's criminal law system?

The purpose of bail and bond in Connecticut is to help guaranty that you will show up for your trial.  The idea is to give you an incentive to show up for Court.  If you fail to show up, you forfeit your money or property.  That is the incentive.  Of course, there already exists a crime called "failure to appear" in Court in Connecticut.  So, that is an incentive to show up in Court.  But bail is also an incentive.  

Is it bail system unfair, and can Connecticut's bail and band system be improved?

Yes, it can.  Most people understand that for very serious crimes the defendent needs to be held in jail.  The Constitution gives them the right to post bail.  The bail must be reasonable.  For less serious crimes, however, forcing people to post bail can cause very serious unintended problems in their lives.  The problems far outweight the seriousness of their crime.  The most obvious problem is that they will likely lose their job if they can't post bail.  In some instances judges require bail for medium level crimes, or low level crimes, or when the nature of the alleged crimes makes it very difficult for the judge to simple release them without bail.  For example, in instances the might involve a weapon, or the threat of potential future violence (no matter how remote) judges will likely require bail.  They don't want to be second-guessed and criticized for failing to prevent a future bad event no matter how remote.   In the vast majority of instances, however, defendants will show up for trial with or without bail.  

For poor people, posting bail is often impossible.  Even $500 can seem like an impossible sum to get for bail.  With the system that allows for bondsmen to post bonds for people, judges know that, and set bonds accordingly.  Judge's know that a $50,000 bond can be achieved with cash payment to a bondsman of a sum far less than $50,000.  So, they set bonds higher than might be reasonable based on what they know one must come up with for the bondsman.  

When people can't post bonds, they are forced to (1) sit in jail even before they are convicted, and even when they are truly not-guilty, and (2) they can expect to lose their job.  A system that uses research to evaluate flight risk would be far superior to our present system.  For low level crimes, there should be no bond.  While the person guilty of the crime must take responsibility for their crime having them lose their job does not help society at all especially for low and medium level crimes. Also, we must always remember that being "accused" does not mean one is guilty, and taking away a person's freedom by putting someone in jail before their right to a fair trial is contrary to our Constitutional values, which value personal freedom higher than anything else.  

Where to get help.

If you have been arrested for a crime in Connecticut, you need a Connecticut criminal defense lawyer.  Contact the criminal defense lawyers at The Bartinik Law Firm, P.C. at 860-717-4211 or toll free at 860-445-8521.  Our law office is located at 100 Fort Hill Road, Ste. 2, Groton, Connecticut 06340.  

Peter J. Bartinik, Jr.
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Civil Trial Attorney, Practicing Law in Connecticut
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