A Brief History of Bail Bond Laws

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After nearly 200 years, the most valuable bail bond law to date was instituted by the U.S. Congress in the form of the Bail Reform Act of 1966, which stated that a defendant facing trial for a non-capital offense should be released “on his personal recognizance” or a personal bond. However, if the court had reason to believe the defendant would leave town, the judge could choose a more restrictive alternative like limiting the defendant’s travel and executing an appearance bond to be refunded when the defendant appeared in court.

While individual states had their own rules, most of them added guidelines similar to the Bail Reform Act of 1966. At that time flaws in the act were also pointed out, for example, the defendant’s potential risk to the community for non-capital offenses. This became an issue when defendants released for non-capital offenses committed more crimes while they were out on bail. So a revision was made by The District of Columbia Court Reform and Criminal Procedure Act of 1970, which enabled judges to consider the dangerousness to the community as well as the flight risk when setting bail for non-capital cases.

At a later time, the federal justice system added the “safety of the community” as a factor to be considered when imposing bail, and thus the Bail Reform Act of 1984 was passed. This newer version added guidelines stating that a person can be detained without bail if he or she:

  • Poses a risk to the community.
  • Intimidates jurors or witnesses, and obstructs justice while out on bail.
  • Commits a violent crime, an offense carrying a death penalty or life in prison, or committing any felony while already having a serious criminal record.

Rely on the experienced staff at Always Available Bail Bonds LLC, which serves clients with bail bonds in West Chester, PA, and throughout Eastern Pennsylvania. Call 1-800-BAIL-OUT any time of night or day.