The history of bail and bail bondsman are not the same thing. I initially thought that they were, after all that would make sense, because if you have one, you’d more than likely have the other. Or so went my line of thinking, when I started my research. But as this Sirgo develops you’ll find that I was off, and you probably were to if you’ve ever thought about the history of bail, and bail bondsman.
So, let’s take our story back to first things first, that of bail. Where did it start, and how did it start. What, if anything, was its purpose and how did it evolve. Then, we will turn our attention to bail bondsman, and how they started, developed and came into their present state. And if it should be possible, how they united into one basic identity.
After all, you probably thought of both when I said the history of Bail Bondsman, but the reality is they are two separate things.
Bail ~ When property or monies
are secured in exchanged for a suspected criminal’s release from jail.
The Origin Of Bail
There were 3 major evolutionary steps in the development of bail. The foundation was started in 1275 with something called the Statue of Westminster. It was at this time, that it was determined that the sheriff had to much power, and sovereign authority. Why? Because they had the right to arrest someone without charging them, and keep them as long as they wanted. At no point were they mandated to set bail OR release those they had arrested. This statue, mandated several things, among with was to limit some of the power of the sheriff. He now had to set bail for given crimes. He still determined how much bail was set for, but, he was told which crimes he had to set bail for.
The second block in the foundation was during King Charles the first! You see, he too had a problem authority. He would order the ‘noblemen’ to collect loans from the people, and if they refused, they were arrested (we’d call this extortion). This didn’t sit well with many that were arrested, because the king, wouldn’t set a date for them to be released, consequently, they could be in prison for years, if not the rest of their life. 5 Prisoners filed a petition called: habeas corpus petition. Their argument was simple: The king can’t hold us for an indefinite period of time without bring us (our body) into the court, they had to have an opportunity to have bail set, or a trial.
Parliament agreed and brought forth in 1679 the Habeas Corpus Act. Basically, what this act did was to mandate that a person had the right to post bail, in order that they could be released. Apparently, those in charge still were trying to take advantage of the people, because another bill was in acted that mandated that bail had to be set at a ‘reasonable amount’ to fit the crime that the person was being charged with. This was called The English Bill of Rights, this took effect in 1689!
The English Bill Of Rights
Impacted how America and other country’s handle their court systems.
A Bail Bondsman
Unlike the English struggle with the institution of bail, the bail bondsman came much later (obviously), and much quicker than bail itself. In 1898 the first bail bonds services was established in San Francisco, with Peter and Tom McDonough. They would receive a certain about for the payment, and then post a ‘bond’ against the person that was arrested, and in turn guaranteeing that they would show up for the court date.
It was at this point that bail and the bondsman were united.
This was later expanded to what is called a ‘blanket’ bond by the courts. This in essence says that they are going to pay the money to the courts should the person ‘jump’ bail and not show up in court. Is it no wonder they will go out and bring the person back that jumps?
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