Pretrial detention is a concept many people are familiar with, albeit under a different name. When an accused is detained prior to a criminal trial, this is known as pretrial detention. This can take place because either the crime committed requires pretrial detention by statute or the accused cannot afford the bail payment. Some Maryland lawmakers are now questioning the constitutionality of the cash for bail system, claiming it could potentially violate the accused’s right of due process.
According to the counsel for the General Assembly, bail is often set at an amount most defendants cannot afford. If pretrial detention is not justified by statute, but is set at an astronomical rate, then she argues the Court would declare it unconstitutional under the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution. The Eighth Amendment prevents the government from imposing excessive fines.
The current system leaves the accused in jail for months as they await trial, often making them lose their jobs which negatively impacts their image in front of the judge and jury. Allowing them to be released from prison means they can continue with their jobs and lead productive lives as they await trial.
Maryland has taken a number of steps to improve their criminal justice system lately, including eliminating mandatory minimum sentences for drug offenders who were nonviolent and allowing the earlier release of nonviolent criminal offenders.
Criminal charges carry with them long-term consequences that affect every aspect of the accused’s life, from job prospects to relationship prospects. While reformation of the system is a positive step, those accused of a crime should also focus on mounting a strong criminal defense to protect their rights.
Source: Washington Post, “Md. Attorney general’s office raises constitutionality questions about state’s cash bail system,” Ovetta Wiggins, Oct. 11, 2016