The Defense Never Rests

Bound to attract some serious attention: a $4 billion bond

On Behalf of | Feb 16, 2017 | Criminal Law

Was it arguably unconstitutional?


Did it achieve its stated purpose of spotlighting what its author regards as a sometimes “ridiculous” aspect of the criminal justice system?

Ditto that, too, as evidenced by reports from news outlets across the country.

Here’s what manifestly bothers Claudia Brown, a justice of the peace in one state: criminal bonds that she believes are too often set at flatly impermissible levels.

Brown obviously views herself as an agent of change and recently took an unusual bond-related step to highlight a concern and engender some debate.

Unquestionably, she scored on both accounts.

When local law enforcers objected to a $100,000 bond she set for a murder suspect, she obliged them by spiking the amount. In response to their request for a 10-fold bond increase of $1 million, she “changed the 1 to a 4 and added a whole bunch of zeroes.”

The result: an unprecedented $4 billion bond.

As she hoped for, that got some attention. She suspected that the eye-popping amount could be construed as a violation of the Constitution and, in fact, a judge did step in quickly to lower the amount to $150,000.

And now the debate is on, in numerous national publications.

It is hard to say, of course, how many people will subscribe to Brown’s belief that “everything in the system is broken,” but it is not questioned at all that many commentators on the criminal justice system think that bond is sometimes set too high for suspects awaiting trial. And that is especially apparent when they reasonably seem to pose scant risk of fleeing or reoffending.

Which seems quite often. According to one estimate, approximately one-fourth of individuals awaiting trial “pose little threat to the public but are incarcerated because they can’t afford to post bail.”

And that is anything but equitable.

Additionally, it is something that any proven criminal defense attorney knows well and will arduously oppose when promoting the best interests of a client in a criminal law matter.