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Monday, December 28, 2015

Lawsuit Challenges Cash Bail System

A lawsuit filed in federal court in San Francisco seeks to abolish the cash bail system employed by criminal courts across the country.

Equal Justice Under Law, a not-for-profit organization based in Washington D.C., brought the suit and essentially alleged that the bail system has created an unequal justice system in which the rich and poor have fundamentally different experiences and outcomes.

The organization has filed similar lawsuits in seven jurisdictions around the nation. At its heart, the lawsuit claims that the bail system as it currently operates is unconstitutional.

Wealthier criminal defendants are often able to post bail and avoid the pressure to plead guilty to avoid pre-trial detention. On the other hand, indigent defendants aren’t usually so fortunate. Defendants in the criminal justice system with less means often cannot afford to post bail, are more likely to be detained before trial, and thus plead guilty more frequently to avoid that possibility.

The Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution requires individuals—rich and poor alike—be afforded equal protection under the law. The Eighth Amendment requires that bail not be excessive. To date, however, the U.S. Supreme Court has not ruled the cash bail system unconstitutional.

It remains to be seen whether one of the lawsuits filed by Equal Justice Under Law will eventually reach the U.S. Supreme Court and require the Justices to contemplate such a question.

Ronald G. Brower is a criminal defense attorney with 30+ years of experience. If you or someone you know is being investigated or has been charged with a crime, it is important to speak to a criminal defense lawyer to protect your rights.

Contact the Law Office of Ronald G. Brower at 714-997-4400.

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