The Bail Reform Act of 1984 sanctions and sets forth the procedures for a judicial officer to order the discharge or incarceration of an arrested individual who is pending trial.
The Bail Reform Act of 1984 is important to our rights as U.S. citizens. Although it has been amended several times, it still stands solid as a form of protection for those being persecuted under state or federal law. Fundamentally, it requires the government to abide by certain rules to ensure a defendant’s rights are not jeopardized. The Bail Reform Act of 1984 mostly affects the detention hearing portion of the criminal justice process. A preliminary detention hearing is the same thing as a bail hearing, except that it only deals with federal level crimes. Bail hearings take place on a state level.
The Bail Reform Act of 1984
(18 U.S.C. §§3141–3150)
Under the Bail Reform Act of 1984, defendants are protected with several procedural rights. Courts cannot deny a defendant a pretrial release unless an adversary hearing is held in which the Federal Government can provide clear and concise evidence that no release conditions “will reasonably assure (…) the safety of any other person and the community.” 18 U.S.C. 3142(e) (1982 ed., Supp. III).
It also ensures that all defendants are granted their constitutional amendments, especially the 4th, 5th, 6th, 8th, and 14th amendment. This includes a person’s right to a speedy and public trial, request an attorney, testify, present witnesses, cross examine witnesses testifying against them, submit evidence, and more. Here are some excerpts of each amendment:
Fourth Amendment (1791)
Protection from Unreasonable Searches and Seizures
“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”
Fifth Amendment (1791)
Protection of Rights to Life, Liberty, and Property
“No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury (…); nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, (…) nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.”
Sixth Amendment (1791)
Rights of Accused Persons in Criminal Cases
“In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defense.”
Eighth Amendment (1791)
Excessive Bail, Fines, and Punishments Forbidden
“Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.”
Fourteenth Amendment (1868)
Rights of Citizenships
“(…) No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law, nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”