27th February 2020 | Sand Law, PLLC
Bail Reform Requested by North Dakota Criminal Defense Attorneys
Bail is a court-imposed monetary fee used in criminal defense cases to release defendants from custody who are awaiting trial. The money is held until the end of the trial, at which time it returns to the defendant. Judges set the dollar amount for bail after considering the flight risk of the defendant, the accusations made against them, and the threat that the defendants pose to the community. In some cases, this means the court releases the accused on their own recognizance. In others, bail is thousands or even millions of dollars. North Dakota judges set their conditions for release by following North Dakota Supreme Court Rule 46.
Bail Reform a Major Issue in North Dakota
Bail reform is a hot topic all over the country. In many instances, defendants do not have sufficient money to pay for the bail set by the court. Some make bail by securing a loan from a bail bondsman with support from someone willing to cosign the bond. That individual, typically a family member or friend, agrees to pay the bond if the defendant fails to meet the release restrictions imposed by the court. A large percentage of defendants are unable to even get a bond and remain in custody until they go to trial. In New Jersey, for example, bail reform groups found that nearly 40 percent of incarcerated defendants were awaiting trial in jail because of unpaid bail.
Overrestrictive Bail Ruin’s Innocent Lives
The problem, according to reformists, is that bail causes defendants to remain in jail for long periods of time before their trial. Defendants lose jobs, houses, cars, property, and families even if they are ultimately found not guilty and set free. In some states, bond reform has gained ground. In New Jersey, defendants are given a risk assessment using statistical means. Those deemed high risk remain in custody. Those with low risk go free. No money changes hands.
The situation is no different in North Dakota. Like other parts of the country, defendants remain in jail for economic rather than criminal reasons. Those economic reasons are not always tied directly to bail, either. As mentioned earlier, North Dakota Supreme Court Rule 46 allows the courts to “impose any release condition that will reasonably assure the appearance of the person for trial.” For example, judges may require that a defendant submit to periodic drug testing. While testing seems like a very reasonable requirement, it is the defendant who must pay the fees for the tests. Over time, the fees add up and the defendant can no longer afford to pay them. Inevitably, they miss a required test and go back to jail.
What Does Bail Reform Propose
Like many states, North Dakota is taking a closer look at their criminal justice systems across the board. Scrutiny of the prison system, as well as the courts, has come to the forefront of major issues our entire country considers a priority with the bail system being no different. Each state naturally has its own minor variances when it comes to handling bail with North Dakota maintaining a system of cash bail where the size of a person’s wallet is what ends up determining whether or not they are afforded freedom during pretrial. Many states see this for what it is and have declared it a violation of the 8th amendment which explicitly protects American citizens from the injustice of excessive bail. It should be noted that the United States and the Philippines are the only two countries in the world that still utilize a for-profit bail system. Some groups maintain that bail reform in the form of a risk assessment system, as mentioned before, is still inherently flawed since risk assessments have the potential to be discriminatory and they propose further alternatives such as mandatory community service and drug recovery programs.
North Dakota Defendants Have Rights
North Dakota has not implemented bond reform, but that doesn’t mean that a defendant does not have rights. If they have not been able to pay the required bond in 48 hours, the defendant can request a review. Judges can reduce the bond if they deem the original amount inappropriate. Instead of a full bond, state courts can release a defendant on payment of a portion, typically around ten percent. North Dakota defense lawyers fight for reasonable release requirements such as these daily across the state.
Seek Sand Law North Dakota Criminal Defense Attorneys
The right defense attorney helps keep clients out of jail while waiting for trial. At Sand Law, we have the most experienced criminal defense attorneys in North Dakota. Lawyers from our offices in Watford City, Williston and Bismark handle cases all over the state. We have represented clients against a variety of charges including assault, bribery, driving while intoxicated, murder, robbery, shoplifting and many more. Remember that you have rights. Remember that you are innocent until proven guilty and you have the right to a trial by jury. Sand Law understands what it takes to navigate the North Dakota courts. If you or a family member face accusations of a crime, contact us for a free consultation today. Here at Sand Law North Dakota, we offer a free consultation to evaluate your situation and come up with a unique approach. Contact us online or call us at 701-609-1510.