Rocky Fork, Missouri

What Is the History of Bail in the US August 11, 2017

Rocky Fork, Boone
What Is the History of Bail in the US, Rocky Fork, Missouri

There's a long history of bail in the U.S. While there are variations among states, federal bail laws have only changed slightly over the last two centuries. Learn more about the federal history of bail in the states with this in-depth guide.

Bail in the Colonies

The beginning of bail bonds in the U.S. is traced back to before the Union was formed. In the days of the colonies, communities faced a predicament—crimes were being committed, but there wasn't sufficient jail space to house defendants while they were waiting for trial or judgment. If they were released, they would take off and go into hiding.

To ease the situation, most areas followed the laws of England which had already established bail laws. This system prevented the need for manpower and structures of large jails, while also creating a place in the market for bail bond companies to arise.

Post-Independence Federal Bail Law

BailAfter the colonies declared independence from England, the bail laws were initially created by each specific colony. There were various degrees of legal requirements placed on bail bondsmen and judges, and some states restricted the amount of bail that could be required.

Finally, the Judiciary Act of 1789 was created by Congress and provided a national guideline for bail. The bill suggested which crimes should be approved for bail, which included non-violent, petty crime. This was the last federal legislation that took place regarding bail for over a century.

20th Century Bail Reform

In the 20th century, however, Congress set out to create more defined federal regulations regarding bail. First came the Bail Reform Act of 1966. This law ensured that anyone not accused of a capital crime would be provided with an opportunity to obtain bail. It also outlined stipulations as to when judges can or cannot restrict bail for certain offenses.

Nearly two decades later, the law was changed again with the Bail Reform Act of 1984, which is still in place today. The law changed the considerations of withholding bail. For instance, a judge can now refuse bail to the accused if they believe they are a danger to the community.


When you or someone you love needs bail in the Columbia, MO, area, contact Richard Cloud Bail Bonding. With nearly 40 years of experience, the bonding company prides itself on quick, efficient, and discreet bail bond services to the local community. Take a closer look at the variety of options they provide by visiting their website or by calling (573) 442-0078.

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