Bail can play an important role in the criminal justice process. Bail has been a cornerstone of the American criminal justice system for more than 200 years, and should be respected and used to its fullest extent.
In fact, the overwhelming majority of individuals convicted of crimes enter prison without ever given the possibility of getting bail bonds.
In cases that do get to trial, people arrested for low-level offenses can be held on $5,000 bail to be released when the case is disposed of. For these cases, a judge can order a pretrial release.
The Constitution provides that no person “shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.”
As with many other fundamental rights, the government is entitled to protect the public interest through its criminal justice system. In order to achieve that goal, the government must be able to use the courts to impose conditions on the public while at the same time protecting individual rights.
Picking up and dropping off of firearms requires no more scrutiny than picking up and dropping off of other things. But the Constitution prohibits the government from burdening our right to keep and bear arms in any way. Even our most basic right as American citizens must not be held hostage to the vagaries of a few prosecutors who have no obligation to the law. The Second Amendment states, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”
So, with all of this in mind, the district attorney in this case is now asking the court to declare that there’s a reasonable probability that the defendant will commit murder with a loaded weapon in the future, and so he should be held accountable. Of course, the district attorney would never admit that he’s made such a mistake, but the fact remains that he was right that the defendant could someday be convicted of carrying a gun in the future. The court cannot allow his argument to go unchallenged.
The court also rejected the state’s argument that there is a high bar for the definition of “possessing” a loaded gun, because it is such a subjective term. The state argued that a loaded gun must have a barrel longer than four inches, because the barrel of a gun with a cylinder is wider than that of a gun with a straight-pull action. But there’s a fundamental flaw in this logic: even if you put a revolver barrel on a revolver, you wouldn’t call it a “loaded revolver.” The gun would still be loaded. In other words, “possessing” a revolver isn’t an objective measure of whether or not the gun is loaded. The state also argued that, when the statute was enacted in the 1970s, “guns” were in general not loaded. But by then, most people knew that a revolver must have a barrel of at least 4 inches if it’s to qualify as a “loaded revolver.” And as I pointed out in my post, the federal law actually has very limited exceptions: shotguns, machine guns, silencers, and magazines designed to accept more than 10 rounds, all of which don’t count toward the 4-inch threshold. (The exception for the bullet barrel of a rifle is an even more narrow exception.) “Possessing” a loaded revolver, then, isn’t about what the gun is made of or what other stuff it holds. It’s