Two Denver County magistrates may be faced with charges for wrongfully denying defendant’s requests to argue for lower bail.
Bail is a monetary deposit placed with a court to ensure that defendants released from jail before trial will show up at all scheduled court appearances. There are constitutional limits on the amount of bail a court can enforce and sometimes these limits can support a defendant’s request to lower bail.
Typically, a court sets the initial amount of bail based on a combination of factors including the severity of the alleged crime, the flight risk of the defendant, and the risk the defendant poses to the community.
The 8th amendment of the US Constitution very clearly prohibits what it calls “excessive bail.” Excessive is not further defined but there is a clause stating that bail cannot be set so high as to force a defendant to remain in jail. This protection, as well as the Bail Reform Act (a federal statute), give defendants the right to request a hearing to seek a bail reduction if the amount initially set by the court is too high to pay. Recently two Denver County judges have been accused of obstructing that right.
According to criticisms, the two Denver County judges failed to follow state laws requiring them to consider individual circumstances when setting bail for each defendant and also denied the defendants the opportunity to request a hearing for lower bail. “Under Colorado law, the presumption is pretrial release, and pretrial detention is supposed to be the exception,” said Mark Silverstein, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado. The intent is to reduce the number of defendants being held in jail simply because the bail set is too high for them to pay. Currently an astounding 60% of all inmates in Denver’s two jails are defendants awaiting their day in court which is costing tax payers a lot of money.
As of today, a decision has not been reached in either case alleged against the two Denver County Magistrates. At Dennis Blackwell Bail Bonds, we continue to follow the story as it unfolds. If you or your loved one is accused of a crime posting bail can be a difficult and confusing process. We feel the least our judicial system can do is consider an individual’s unique circumstances when deciding on an amount for bail and honor each defendant’s right to request a hearing for a lower amount.