Columbus, Oh – The Ohio Constitution is violated when a court orders bail requiring that 10 percent of the amount be paid in cash, and prohibits a defendant from posting a surety bond for the full amount.
With a recent Ohio Supreme Court ruling, Tony Sylvester, owner of the Canton-based Sly Bail Bonds with 15 offices in Ohio, said “we now can help those folks, and uphold their 8th amendment rights, rich or poor so as to secure their constitutional right to be released from jail pending trial”.
It had been the regular practice for Ohio trial courts to set a monetary bail pursuant to Rule 46(A)(2) of the Ohio Rules of Criminal Procedure and to require the defendant to pay in cash (as opposed to collateral or surety) ten percent of the set bail amount. This is commonly referred to as a “10% Bond.”
Prior to the ruling, Sylvester said, “we were forced to turn people away, despite their begging and pleading in some instances. That’s because the following courts Massillon Municipal Court, Stark County Common Pleas Court, Portage County Common Pleas Court, Ravenna Municipal Court, Wayne County Municipal Court, Wayne County Common Pleas Court, Summit County Common Pleas Court, Akron Municipal Court, and courts in Licking County all required a 10 percent cash deposit to post bail and get released from jail while their court case is pending.”
The ruling — the result of a legal challenge filed by Sylvester in 2012 — requires courts in the state to give defendants the option of making a 10 percent cash deposit on bail or use what’s known as a surety bond (when a private bonding company is used).
All this changed when the Ohio Supreme Court in State ex rel. Sylvester v. Neal, 2014-Ohio-2926 held that this rule was unconstitutional
The rule denies the right of criminal defendants to be “bailable by sufficient sureties,” as required by the Ohio Constitution, Justice Sharon L. Kennedy wrote in the court’s 5-2 majority opinion. The majority determined that the all Ohio Courts must accept surety bonds for the full bail amount even if their courts required, under Criminal Rule 46(A)(2), a 10 percent cash payment.
In this case, a claim was asserted that various County Clerk of Courts in concert with the County Court of Common Pleas was violating the constitutional rights of incarcerated individuals by requiring the posting of cash bonds, named 10% bonds, instead of permitting the individuals to secure the full amount of the bond through a surety. Even prior to Ohio Supreme Court’s ruling it was well established that a bail bond that must be paid in cash only is unconstitutional. Smith v. Leis, 106 Ohio St.3d. 309, 2005 Ohio 5125; State ex rel. Jones v. Hendon, 66 Ohio St.3d 115, 609 N.E.2d 541
The question that was decided by the Ohio Supreme Court in State ex rel. Sylvester v. Neal (Tony Sylvester owner of Sly Bail Bonds) was whether requiring a defendant to pay 10 percent of the bond in cash and refusing to instead accept a surety bond violated the constitutional requirement that defendants be “bailable by sufficient sureties.”
Article I, Section 9 of the Ohio Constitution is violated when a court orders bail requiring that 10 percent of the amount be paid in cash, and prohibits a defendant from posting a surety bond for the full amount. Ohio Constitution Article I, Section 9 requires that “All persons shall be bailable by sufficient sureties …”. The Court stated:
“We hold … that Ohio Crim. R. 46 (A) is unconstitutional insofar as it allows a court to require a bond secured by a 10 percent cash deposit under Crim.R. 46 (A) (2) as the only option, to the exclusion of a surety bond,” Justice Kennedy wrote. “Bail under Crim.R. 46(A) (2) is still an option if a surety bond is accepted as an alternative. Thus, if a court decides that it will accept the defendant’s own bond only if it is secured by a 10 percent cash deposit, it must accept, as an alternative, a surety bond for the full amount of bail, with no deposit required. Crim.R. 46(A)(2) does not state this alternative, as Crim.R. 46(A) (3) does, but the Constitution requires it.”
In reaching its decision, the Court initially observed that the Ohio Constitution does not mention cash-only bail. The purpose of Article I, Section 9 of the Ohio Constitution is to ensure that defendants are protected from excessive bail and are “bailable by sufficient sureties.” Excessive bail and bail with no access to a surety would prevent many from release pending their criminal trials.
The Court further noted that in setting bail, “it is of no consequence to the court the method by which it is posted. To hold otherwise would run the risk of only wealthy defendants enjoying their constitutional right to be “bailable by sufficient sureties.”
There is no better “sufficient surety” than a bail bonding company. The very model upon which it operates comports with the purpose of bail. It has resources dedicated solely to hunting down and capturing those individuals (Bounty Hunters) who “skip bail” and making sure that they appear in court at no additional cost to the legal system or taxpayers.
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