Today – Tuesday, July 8th – the Ohio Supreme Court ruled that requiring criminal defendants to pay 10 percent of their bond in cash is unconstitutional. The ruling – decided by a 5-2 vote – came as a result of cases brought by a local bondsman and bail-bond company owner. The new ruling can potentially allow more criminal defendants to secure their release from jail.
Most central Ohio courts require criminal defendants in jail to post 10 percent cash in order to be released on bond. As a result of the new ruling, however, courts must also accept surety bonds, usually issued by licensed bondsmen, for the full bond amounts.
Cash bonds allow defendants to receive 90 percent of their money back in exchange for attending all required court proceedings related to their charge. A defendant who posts $1,000 toward a $10,000 bond and makes all court appearances would receive all but $100 of their money back. Bondsmen usually charge 10 percent of the bond amount. In the ruling, the court stated that defendants are not required to use bail bondsmen.
The new ruling may allow many criminal defendants held under cash bonds more opportunities to secure their release by working with a bail-bond company. Still, some argue that the decision may give bail-bond companies a constitutional right to post bonds for clients.