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role that bail is playing in the criminal justice system and how these amounts are determined. This is accomplished by looking at the Robert Blake murder trial, the Roman Polanski rape case and the Carlos Lehder drug trial. Once this occurs, is when we can understand how and why this applied differently in a host of court cases.
One of the core elements of the criminal justice system is bail. This is when someone who stands accused of a crime can be released from police custody, under the promise that they will return to court on the specified date of their trial. In all cases, this involves the person providing some kind of monetary or physical assets in exchange for being released from jail. The basic idea behind granting bail is three fold to include:
It assures that the accused will make their court date.
It maintains the presumption of innocence by allowing defendant to avoid unnecessary incarceration prior to being found guilty of a crime.
It allows the accused sufficient time to prepare for their trial and confer with their attorneys about their case. (Harr, 2008, pg. 326)
This is significant, because it is showing how bail is often used as a tool to ensure that there is some kind of balance in protecting the rights of defendants and guaranteeing that they will appear on their specified court dates.
As a result, this basic idea has been used in a wide variety of criminal cases throughout history. To fully understand the concept of bail requires examining one murder, rape and drug trafficking case each. This will be accomplished by looking at the criminal proceedings surrounding the trails of: Robert Blake, Roman Polanski and Carlos Lehder. Once this occurs, is when we can offer specific insights about the basic philosophy behind the bail system and the reason why it was granted or denied in these cases.
The Robert Blake Murder Case
On May 4, 2001 Bonnie Lee Blakely was murdered execution style outside of a restaurant in Studio City, California. She was married to the actor Robert Blake and had a history of extorting money out of famous celebrities (based upon her relationships that he had with them). What happened was she was having an affair with Blake and Marlon Brando's son (Christian). When she became pregnant, is the point that she told both men that they were the father of her baby. Once it was determined that Blake was the actual father, is when he would marry her. However, their relationship was filled with a tremendous amount of ups and downs. As Blake and Blakely, were known for fighting constantly. (Houck, 2006, pp. 84 -- 89) (Wong, 2010, pp. 151 -- 156)
When the murder was taking place, is the point that suspicions arose that Blake had Blakely killed. This is because his story did not match with eyewitness accounts. What occurred is Blake told the police, that he left his wife in the car. In order to, return to the restaurant and retrieve a .38 caliber pistol (that he left on the table). This is when the actual murder took place. However, eyewitnesses in the restaurant claimed that Blake did not come back to retrieve the gun. Instead, he came back and informed everyone that his wife had been murdered outside. This raised suspicion that he was involved in these events either directly or indirectly (based upon the inconsistency in his story). After the LAPD conducted a ballistics test on Blake's gun they determined that this was not the murder weapon. (Houck, 2006, pp. 84 -- 89) (Wong, 2010, pp. 151 -- 156)
The problem is that there was a considerable amount of circumstantial evidence that indicated he was involved. What happened was in the year after the murder is when a retired stuntman (named Robert Hambelton) came forward and claimed that Blake had approached him about killing Blakely. This was used as evidence during a grand jury hearing to indict Blake on charges of: murder with special circumstances, murder conspiracy and solicitation of murder. Once Blake was arrested (on April 18, 2002) is when he would deal with issues surrounding bail. (Houck, 2006, pp. 84 -- 89) (Wong, 2010, pp. 151 -- 156)
In this particular case, Blake was initially denied bail and was forced to remain in jail for nearly one year. Then, a judge ruled that he could be released on $1.5 million bail. This is provided that he wore a home monitoring device and was placed under house arrest. In this situation, bail was initially denied because it was believed that Blake could flee prosecution before the trial. However, after he agreed to wear a home monitoring device, is when he was able to receive bail for $1.5 million. This is because there were sufficient tools in place to prevent the defendant from taking flight. (Houck, 2006, pp. 84 -- 89) (Wong, 2010, pp. 151 -- 156)
When you step back and analyze what is happening, it is clear that the judge was correct in initially denying the defendant bail. This is because, Blake was mentally unstable and he had tremendous resources that could have allowed him to flee. Once his attorneys agreed that he would wear a home monitoring device is when bail should have been set. However, the overall amounts were to low considering his involvement in the case. As a result, the judge should have set bail at least $3 million and required him to wear a home monitoring device. At the same time, he should have been forced to check in with local authorities at least once a week. The reason why this approach should have been taken is because, Blake was considered to be a high profile defendant. This increased the chances that he could have fled the country, despite the fact that he was wearing a home monitoring device. The $3 million would have been sufficient to place a major strain upon his financial resources and the ability of Blake to seek out any kind of assistance in the event that he decided to flee. This is significant, because it is showing how the process of setting bail is based upon the belief of the judge about the defendant's ability to flee. In the Robert Blake case, bail was originally denied based upon the fact that judge felt he could possible escape prosecution before the trail. Once there was a way of monitoring him, is when these views would change. This is the point that bail was set and Blake was allowed to remain free during his trial.
The Roman Polanski Rape Case
In 1977, the director and filmmaker Roman Polanski was charged with a number of different crimes involving unconsensual sex with 13-year-old girl. What happened was Polanski admitted to giving Samantha Geirner (the victim) alcohol and various drugs that were designed to make her unconscious. It is at this point that he had sex with her and engaged in various acts that were considered to be illegal including: sodomy. (Crock, 2010, pp. 673 -- 678) (James, 2005, pp. 365 -- 372)
In 1978, Polanski was arrested and charged with a number of different crimes. These include: rape by the use of drugs, sodomy, perversion, furnishing controlled substances to a minor along with lewd and lascivious acts upon a child under 14. After his arrest, the judge granted Polanski bail of $5.4 million. While awaiting trial, Polanski attorney's negotiated a plea deal. Under the agreement, Polanski would admit to rape with the use of drugs. Whereas the other five charges against him were to be dropped. At the same time, is when he underwent a court ordered psychological evaluation. The agreement was that Polanski would receive five years of probation in exchange for pleading to guilty to the one count. (Crock, 2010, pp. 673 -- 678) (James, 2005, pp. 365 -- 372)
However, once it was revealed that the judge was going to sentence Polanski to jail and have him deported is when he fled the United States to France. The reason why is because he has French citizenship and the country does not have an extradition treaty with the United States. Since that time, Polanski has been on the run from these charges and has refused to return to the United States to face justice. (Crock, 2010, pp. 673 -- 678) (James, 2005, pp. 365 -- 372)
When you step back and analyze the case, it is clear that Polanski should have been denied bail from the very beginning. The reason why, is because he held a citizenship from a country that has no extradition treaty with the United States. At the same time, his wealth and the fact that he traveled a lot meant that he could easily flee. A second option is that the judge could have revoked Polanski's bail and ordered him arrested once a plea deal was struck. This is because the judge knew that he was going to sentence…[continue]
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