Determined Montgomery Civil Rights Lawyer Opposes Illegal Municipal Bail Practices
Standing up for your rights to due process and equal protection
Citizens do not have an absolute right to bail. Judges must weigh public safety and the interests of justice when deciding if bail is appropriate in a particular case. However, unreasonably denying bail and allowing a defendant to languish in jail runs contrary to the sacred principles of our American system of justice, which assumes a defendant is innocent until proven guilty. At McGuire & Associate we are deeply concerned with questionable bail practices in Alabama courts that violate the defendant’s civil rights, including the rights to due process and equal protection under the law. We work tirelessly to obtain release for defendants unfairly held in jail because of their inability to pay excessive bail or other illegal bail practices.
What constitutes an illegal bail practice in Alabama?
Bail is a concept from common law that allows an arrested person to be free pending trial by posting a bond for an amount the court determines. The Eighth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution does not require the court to offer bail but prohibits the court from demanding excessive bail. However, the mere existence of a system that predicates freedom on funding gives an advantage to the wealthy over the poor. Under the Constitution, the poor are guaranteed equal protection under the law, but bail is an area of civil rights law where the poor are definitely at a disadvantage.
In Alabama, the poor are often denied equal protection and are forced to remain in jail pending trial, because courts:
- Deny the right to reasonable bail — Whether bail is excessive or reasonable depends not only on the charge but also on the defendant’s ability to pay.
- Deny the right to legal counsel at bail hearings — Since courts do not generally extend the right to counsel to bail hearings, many poor defendants appear without a lawyer to argue for reasonable bail.
- Deny bail due to alleged gang affiliation — Connection to a gang is often highly speculative, and such an allegation tends to have a disparate impact on poor, minority defendants.
- Deny bail due to risk of flight — Although courts consider many factors when assessing risk of flight, one prominent factor is the existence of a permanent address. This factor can adversely impact indigent defendants.
Bail practices that deny equal protection or due process effectively penalize defendants for their financial status. McGuire & Associates stands firmly opposed to any practice that criminalizes poverty, and we fight aggressively to uphold the dignity of the clients we serve.
In cases where someone has been denied bail illegally, we can file a petition for a writ of habeas corpus to challenge the court’s ruling. If we are successful, the court might be forced to reduce the required bond amount or release the defendant on his or her own recognizance.
Contact our Montgomery civil rights law firm for proactive bail representation
McGuire & Associates asserts our clients’ constitutional right to due process and equal protection in bail hearings and in habeas corpus proceedings in Montgomery and throughout Alabama. To schedule a consultation with a passionate civil rights lawyer, call us at 334-651-8891 or contact our Montgomery office online. Our office is located at 31 Clayton Street, convenient to I-85 and I-65.