Criminal Law

The Other Side of the Eighth Amendment

The Eighth Amendment of the Constitution declares that “There shall be no excessive bail.” This means that the courts cannot set a bail amount that is more than reasonably calculated in order to ensure that the defendant will return to court to face their charges. The Eight Amendment applies to the federal courts while the Fourteenth Amendment makes the same provision for state and local courts.

Today, many jurisdictions are overlooking the main purpose of the Amendment: to get the defendant into court for trial. The reason behind bail is simply to make sure that the accused will stand before the court to be found guilty or innocent. The secondary point of the Amendment is to guarantee that the defendant is given a fair bail amount in direct proportion to the crime.

Setting bail at a reasonable amount keeps things fair for the defendant, but it is also important for the jurisdictions to avoid setting the amount too low. The most important reason for bail to be set is to give a financial liability to the defendant to guarantee their return to court.

So, there are two sides to the Eight Amendment: that bail must be set at a fair amount, but it cannot be set too low. With excessive bail, defendants do not have an equal chance of being released prior to trial. On the other hand, when it is not high enough, there is a higher risk to society. This is evidenced through studies of defendants released on their own recognizance (OR) who fail to appear at a higher rate and also commit more crimes while they are released.

Compared to defendants who have been released on a financially secured bail bond, defendants released on OR are less likely to return to court because they are under no financial obligation to do so. There is also no system in place that will keep track of the person once released on OR, as opposed to a bail bond release where the bondsman keep track of the defendant’s whereabouts through regular check-ins.

When too many criminals are released without strict measures, that can lead to an increase in crime in the community. For this reason, stricter bail conditions must be utilized to protect citizens as well as uphold the Eight Amendment.

However, too many jurisdictions are implementing lax approaches to bail, some because they have no choice and others because they have a limited amount of knowledge about the bail bond system.

For many, there are concerns that most defendants will be unable to pay for a bail bond if the bail amount is too high. To avoid violating the Eighth Amendment (or the Fourteenth Amendment on a state/local level), they choose to set lower bail amounts or to release too many accused offenders without the liability of full bail.

The thought that most defendants will be unable to afford a bail bond is a misconception, however. Members of the bail bond industry recognize the financial strain that many people are under and work hard to find a solution for each individual in order to make it easy for them. Some adjust pricing models, offering payment plans and financing to help meet the needs of the defendant.

The exceptions to this process are typically people who are transients, with no home, no income and no ties to the community. Also, if the defendant has absolutely no one they can turn to in the community, no friends or family because they have turned away from them.

The judge is responsible for determining the qualifications of each defendant when setting bail. The highest bail amounts are reserved for the most serious offenses or for those who are considered a flight risk.

The commercial bail bond industry strives to work in partnership with the courts and lawmakers in order to help ensure that the Eighth Amendment is upheld while at the same time protecting the community from offenders.

What Do Defence Lawyers Do

If a suspect feels that they are likely to be charged and arrested before a trial takes place, a defence lawyer can step in and assist their clients during the investigation period of the crime. They can also advise their clients on how to answer during interrogations and are also responsible for telling the suspect which information can and cannot be disclosed.

Defence lawyers can also help assist in dropping charges against his clients. This is possible if the pieces of evidence are proven to be insufficient or false or by making a declaration of lack of probable cause. The probable cause is when a witness or accuser narrates what he saw during the crime and it has to be detailed, convincing and true to serve as a compelling reason to charge the suspect of the crime they are supposed to have commit. If the probable cause is found to be lacking or insufficient, the charges and the arrest may be revoked.

If in case the suspect is held behind bars, a defence lawyer can prepare the bail for his client. The bail is a certain amount of money corresponding to the alleged crime committed which, when paid, will allow the suspect to go free. The defence lawyer can negotiate with the police, the prosecutor or the complainants during this process.

During a trial, it is the responsibility of defence lawyers to make every effort to help his client. A defence lawyer would go over the narrative of the crime story and the statements given by the witnesses and after understanding the situation, they would analyze the case and start developing defence strategies. In this part, the client should be collaborating with the lawyer so that they can come up with an effective plan of defence. A defence lawyer explains the trial process to his client from beginning to end and is also responsible for giving advice to the client and preparing necessary letters and documents like a plea bargain. If ever the decision is not in favour of their party, a defence lawyer could prepare appellate briefs for the client and represent him in hearings.

Defence lawyers do a lot more aside from these things. During the trial, they always think of ways and strategies on how to counter the prosecutor’s accusations and the pieces of evidence that are presented. They sometimes do their own investigation to gather pieces of evidence to help win the case. They have to be able to see through the statements and be able to discover possible implications and consequences.

In Depth Overview of Drugged Driving in The United States

In California, it is not new that hundreds of automobile accidents occur due to drunk driving. However, drunk driving is not only the cause of such mishaps. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), over-the-counter drugs and illicit substances also cause road accidents in the United States.

Understanding the Nature of “Drugged” Driving

Drugged driving may be simply defined as driving while under the influence of drugs. Simple as it may sound, but the contexts involved in this type of traffic infraction and violation encompass several traffic- and health-related issues.

Unlike drunk driving, only few people really do understand the dangers and issues involved in drugged driving. People may think that driving under the influence of drugs only involves illegal substances such as cocaine, cannabis, meth, and others. However, even a simple analgesic, cough suppressant, or antihistamine can also impair a driver’s motor skills, which may result to a road mishap.

The Current Situation in the United States

According to Los Angeles attorneys, the problem about drugged driving is not only exclusive within the borders of California. NHTSA claims that in 2007 alone, more than 16 percent of weekend and nighttime road accidents were associated with drivers under the influence of illegal, prescribed, and/or over-the-counter drugs. Furthermore, in 2008, the Administration found out that 18 percent of fatally injured motorists were under the influence of at least one drug.

In a study conducted by the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), in 2009 about 10.5 million Americans aged 12 or older have at least drove once in their life while under the influence of an illicit substance. Additionally, the study found out that there is a direct correlation between driver’s age and substance abuse. NSDUH’s study revealed that drivers aged 16 to 25 are more likely to drive under the influence of illegal drugs as compared to other age groups.

Dangers of Drugged Driving

Just like alcoholic drinks, drugs in any form can impair a person’s driving skills and performance. A driver under the influence of drugs may find it difficult to cope with the sudden changes in the traffic situation. Drugged drivers are usually slow to react with the situation thus endangering their and other people’s lives. Furthermore, particular drugs can make a person feel drowsy which can lead to the drivers’ susceptible to untoward incidences.

Legal Actions One May Take

Californians who get injured in an automobile accident due to a drugged driver have the right to seek for compensations. Victims may ask for legal assistance from a Santa Monica personal injury lawyer to assert for compensatory damages from the liable party involved.