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Ohio Supreme Court Rules Courts Can’t Require Defendants to Post Bail with Cash Only

Tuesday, July 8, 2014 at 2:44 PM

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Photo by Joe Gratz/FLICKR

The Ohio Supreme Court says a judge can’t order defendants to put up cash only to get out of jail, but that they must accept surety bonds and other forms of bail as well. Statehouse correspondent Karen Kasler has details.

Two bail bonds companies sued two county common pleas courts over their cash-only bail requirement. In February, Kendra Carpenter told the Ohio Supreme Court that how to post bail is the defendant’s choice, not the court’s.

“The Ohio Constitution affords every Ohio citizens the right to a sufficient surety to be bailable out of jail so that no citizen is unduly detained in jail beyond what is necessary,” said Carpenter.

But Assistant Attorney General Christopher Armstrong said the rule was written to allow judges the freedom to require whatever will bring defendants back to court for trial.

“The court has an interest in selecting the right incentives to ensure the defendant’s appearance and to protect the public,” Armstrong said.

The court said 5-2 that a cash-only rule is unconstitutional, and that it could set up a situation where only wealthy defendants could get out on bail. 

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