Third Circuit Rules There Is No Right To Cash Bail

A federal appeals court recently upheld the constitutionality of a New Jersey law that mostly ended the use of monetary bail.

The Philadelphia-based 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the law in a challenge by Brittan Holland, who was accused of second-degree aggravated assault for his alleged involvement in a bar fight.

The New Jersey law had prioritized nonmonetary conditions of release over money bail, and had called for a risk-based assessment system to determine whether a defendant is a flight risk or a danger to the community. Holland was released before trial on home detention with electronic monitoring.

The key question, the 3rd Circuit said, is “whether there is a federal constitutional right to deposit money or obtain a corporate surety bond to ensure a criminal defendant’s future appearance in court as an equal alternative to non-monetary conditions of pretrial release. Our answer is no.”

Another plaintiff in the case was the Lexington National Insurance Corp., a company that does business with the bail-bond industry. The 3rd Circuit said the company did not have standing to challenge the law.

ABA Journal

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