The Eight Amendment of the U.S. Constitution
The right of bail and basic protections for U.S. citizens is guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution via the Eight Amendment and is part of the Bill of Rights. It prohibits the Federal Government from imposing excessive bail, or fines, cruel and/or unusual punishment, inclusive of torture to persons accused of a crime on U.S. territory. Bail, however, is not guaranteed as certain crimes are not applicable for bail by the same amendment.
The Eight Amendment protects the people that require bail to be released from jail to prepare for their defense trial. Since in the United States of America, the law presumes “You are innocent until proven guilty”, bail plays an essential part of a defense strategy to be able to prove your innocence. While free on bail, you are able to contact an attorney to communicate with witnesses or alibies that may be able to prove your innocence or whereabouts at the time of the accused crime at trial.
Why is Bail a constitutional right?
In previous history, bail and right to freedom during trail to prove your innocence was not a protected right. Sherriff’s were the ones to make the decision of fines and punishments back in time, and they had a tendency to abuse their power. Parliament decided in 1275 that they would pass a statute that there would be bailable and non-bailable offenses. Finally judges were required to set bail, but some set impossible amounts of bail and some were impractical for their offense. In 1689 the English Bill of Rights was adopted and stated “excessive bail ought not be required”. In 1791 the Eight Amendment was adopted and interpreted to mean bail should meet the offense.
What if the Eight Amendment is removed from the Constitution?
If the Eight Amendment were to be removed from the Constitution, the wording “Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted”, would be removed and the Federal Government would be at liberty to apply whatever fines or means necessary to prosecute any given crime.