What is a bail bondsman?

A bail bondsman is a private individual who issues a bond to the court, ensuring that the defendant will appear in court even if released on bond. The defendant then has to pay the bail bondsman a fee—typically 10% of the bond—and agrees to appear in court for the court hearings. The 10% fee paid to the bail bondsman is generally nonrefundable.

Who appoints an attorney for a criminal defendant?

The court appoints attorneys for those criminal defendants who do not have sufficient funds to pay for their own attorney. Individuals always have the option to pay for their own attorney who will represent them. However, many individuals charged with crimes do not have the resources to pay for legal representation. Many attorneys make

LegalSpeak: Stack v. Boyle (1951)

Unless this right to bail before trial is preserved, the presumption of innocence, secured only after centuries of struggle, would lose its meaning.

The right to release before trial is conditioned upon the accuser's giving adequate assurance that he will stand trial and submit to sentence if found guilty. Like the ancient practice of securing the oaths of responsible persons to stand as sureties for the accused, the modern practice of requiring a bail bond or the deposit of a sum of money subject to forfeiture serves as additional assurance of the presence of an accused. Bail set at a figure higher than an amount reasonably calculated to fulfill this purpose is "excessive" under the Eighth Amendment.

Since the function of bail is limited, the fixing of bail for any individual defendant must be based upon standards relevant to the purpose of assuring the presence of that defendant.

at least a part of their living off of appointed cases. Many jurisdictions have appointment lists from which judges will select attorneys for representation.

Who was Gideon and who eventually was his appointed counsel?

Clarence Earl Gideon was the criminal defendant in the famous case Gideon v. Wainwright (1963). Gideon allegedly broke into a Florida pool hall to steal money. This criminal act earned him felony charges and later a conviction in Florida state court. In the beginning of the case, Gideon asked the court for a lawyer. The trial judge responded that under Florida law the only criminal defendants entitled to a court-appointed lawyer were those defendants facing capital (death-penalty) charges. Gideon insisted that "the United States Supreme Court says I am entitled to be represented by Counsel."

Gideon appealed his case all the way to the United States Supreme Court. The Court accepted his case for review and appointed him a Washington, D.C.-based attorney named Abe Fortas to represent Gideon before the Court. Ironically, Fortas later became a United States Supreme Court Justice.

As alluded to earlier, Gideon's case spurred action by the U.S. Congress which required in every federal judicial district a system to create proper legal representation for criminal defendants.

What is the right to counsel?

The "right to counsel" means that a criminal defendant who faces imprisonment is entitled to an attorney whether he or she can afford an attorney. This right is constitu-

LegalSpeak: Gideon v. Wainwright (1963)

Governments, both state and federal, quite properly spend vast sums of money to establish machinery to try defendants accused of crime. Lawyers to prosecute are everywhere deemed essential to protect the public's interest in an orderly society. Similarly, there are few defendants charged with crime, few indeed, who fail to hire the best lawyers they can get to prepare and present their defenses. That government hires lawyers to prosecute and defendants who have the money hire lawyers to defend are the strongest indications of the widespread belief that lawyers in criminal courts are necessities, not luxuries. The right of one charged with crime to counsel may not be deemed fundamental and essential to fair trials in some countries, but it is in ours. From the very beginning, our state and national constitutions and laws have laid great emphasis on procedural and substantive safeguards designed to assure fair trials before impartial tribunals in which every defendant stands equal before the law. This noble ideal cannot be realized if the poor man charged with crime has to face his accusers without a lawyer to assist him.

tionally based in the Sixth Amendment's "assistance of counsel." (See chapter two on the Bill of Rights, especially the Sixth Amendment.) The U.S. Supreme Court provided that this Sixth Amendment-based right was extended to state court defendants charged with felonies in the case Gideon v. Wainwright (1963; see LegalSpeak above). In that decision, Justice Hugo Black explained that attorneys in criminal cases were "necessities, not luxuries."

< Prev   CONTENTS   Next >