As a Mississippi criminal defense lawyer, I am often called upon to seek bond reductions for persons who are being held in jail and unable to make bond. Bond is usually set immediately after an arrest in Mississippi. Unfortunately, in many cases this bond is too high.
The right to a reasonable bond (sometimes referred to as bail), is secured by the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution. The right to reasonable bail is also guaranteed by the Mississippi Constitution. See Miss. Const., Art. 3, §29. The Mississippi Supreme Court has held that the purpose of bail is to secure the Defendant’s presence at trial. Lee v. Lawson, 375 So.2d 1019, 1021 (Miss. 1979). “The justifiable premise for bail is that its denial punishes the accused prior to a guilty verdict while he is clothed with the presumption of innocence.” Id. citing Ex Parte Dennis, 334 So.2d 369, 371 (Miss. 1976).
In Dennis, the Mississippi Supreme Court set forth several factors for the Court to consider when setting bail. Those factors include:
(1) the seriousness of the crime charged against the defendant,
(2) the extent of the punishment prescribed by the legislature,
(3) the defendant’s criminal record if any and previous record on bail if any,
(4) his reputation and mental condition,
(5) the length of his residence in the community,
(6) his family ties and relationships,
(7) his employment status, record of employment and his financial condition,
(8) the identity of responsible members of the community who would vouch for defendant’s reliability and
(9) any other factors indicating defendant’s mode of life, or ties to the community bearing on the risk of failure to appear.
When we have a client that is unable to make the bond that was initially set by the Court, we file a motion to reduce bond. This motion will set out the facts of the case, as well as an analysis of the factors stated above. More often than not, after this motion is filed, the prosecutor will agree to reduce bond to an acceptable amount. If the prosecutor will not agree, we set the motion for a hearing. At the hearing, we call witnesses to establish that the bond should be lowered. These witnesses typically include family, employers and clergy. The purpose of calling these witnesses is to establish that our client has a good reputation in the community, is responsible, and not likely to flee if he makes bond.
There is no reason why a person accused of a crime should sit in jail in pretrial detention because his bond is too high. Having a competent, aggressive Mississippi criminal defense lawyer is critical to getting bond lowered to a reasonable amount. If you have questions relating to bond reductions, please contact me. You may also visit my Jackson, Mississippi criminal defense website for more information.