Bail Bonds and the Law: History of Bail Themes

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Bail Bonds and the Law: History of Bail Themes

bail bonds law history

At Beehive Bail Bonds, we’re your 24-hour bail bond specialists. We’ve happily assisted numerous Utah clients with their bail bond needs at any time of day or night, helping individuals or their loved ones secure their release from incarceration for the lowest rate possible.

A common question we’re asked by clients: What part of the law covers bail, bail bonds and related areas? As it turns out, the answer is about as legitimate as you could ask for in this country: The Constitution itself defines bail, specifically the Eighth Amendment, which also covers cruel and unusual punishments. In addition, there’s history behind the concept of bail that dates back to even before our country was formed, but was largely adopted by its founders in intelligent ways. This two-part blog series will go over the early history of bail and similar themes, plus how our eventual bail laws developed and what they cover.

Earliest Bail Statutes

One can go back nearly 1,000 years to find the earliest iterations of what we’d now refer to as “bail.” Before the 13th century in the common era, decisions of fines and punishments for various crimes were almost unilaterally determined by the Sherriff in British society. However, in the year 1275, Parliament passed a statute defining both bailable and non-bailable offenses.

This was just a first step, though. The next several centuries would see these and other provisions routinely abused by judges, who would often hold suspects without bail at the command of the Sovereign. In 1628, the Petition of Right argued that neither the king nor judges had this authority – but due to loopholes found, the practice continued for many more years.

Habeas Corpus Act

Finally, in 1679, the Habeas Corpus Act was passed. It both defined and strengthened the ancient writ of habeas corpus, which refers to prisoner detention and arbitrary imprisonment. It required judges to actually set bail. However, for the first decade or so of this act being in place, judges abused it by simply setting ridiculous bail figures for many offenders.

English Bill of Rights

A decade later, in 1689, the English Bill of Rights was passed. One particular element that was crucial to the bail realm: This bill clarified that “excessive” bail amounts were no longer legal. This came about largely due to a well-publicized case of a man named Titus Oates, who was put in prison and convicted of crimes without any trial or bail, plus tortured in disgusting ways. Parliament responded by calling his treatment “inhuman,” and this led to the formation of the phrase “cruel and unusual punishment” that’s seen in both British and American law to this day.

For more on the history of bail and incarceration limits, or to learn about any of our bail bond services, speak to the staff at Beehive Bail Bonds today.