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Is bail too expensive?

Bail is a common way to make sure that people accused of crimes will show up in court when it's time for a hearing. In essence, it is a security payment that grants an accused individual the ability to live a normal life until future court dates. Those who do not pay bail sometimes wait for trial in jail.

The Maryland state Court of Appeals has revised their bail system to consider different penalties for those from different financial backgrounds. The existing system was unfair to low income citizens, argues the state's Attorney General, by having set payment amounts based on the charge. In short, the Maryland court argues that all citizens should have equal access to posting bail. The state's existing bail schedule did not allow that.

Bail schedules and due process

A bail schedule is a pre-determined payment for select crimes. The accused must pay that amount to avoid waiting for trial in jail, prior to being found innocent or guilty.

The argument in Maryland is that alternative options can keep the accused from skipping court, and that a high fee disproportionately affects the rights of poor citizens.

Due process means all Americans get equal opportunities at trial. The court will follow the same procedures for all citizens, regardless of economic class or other personal factors. In setting bail costs too high, it is Maryland's opinion that bail was less accessible to some of the population.

What are the other options?

The purpose of bail is deterrent of flight, not a fine for those accused of a crime. Maryland's new system will explore different deterrents, such as electronic monitoring and assigning defendants to attend meetings that track location and keep them in the area.

In Ohio, bail amounts are determined by a judge, usually based on the accused crime in relation to a determined risk of flight. Misdemeanors are more routine in cost, often a few hundred dollars, while felonies can reach six figures in select situations.

For a better understanding of criminal charges, bail and criminal defense in Ohio, it's best to speak with an attorney who knows how local courts approach them. An experienced lawyer can advise on different charges and methods of defense that will best suit your personal situation.

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