StateStats: Bailing Out: December 2010 

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Release on bail before trial is a basic right in many states for most defendants.

Sixty percent of defendants are released on bail before going to trial, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics. This number hasn’t changed in 20 years, but the type of bail most frequently used has.

In the ’90s, the most common form of bail was release on recognizance. All states authorize this kind of bail. Twenty-nine states have a presumption of release on recognizance, which means the court must release certain defendants after considering their flight risk and the victim’s and public’s safety.

Since 1998, the trend has shifted to release defendents instead to a commercial bail agent. Commercial bail is permitted in 46 states.

State lawmakers are taking a fresh look at bail laws, and at least 26 have passed laws this year addressing bail and regulation of the commercial bail industry. At least six states have added requirements for obtaining a bondsman license this year. And lawmakers in seven states have further restricted the release of defendants charged with domestic violence, sex and violent offenses.