Can the 8th Amendment Rights Protect You?
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The 8th Amendment rights of the U.S. Constitution reads: “Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.”1
Ratified in 1791, the 8th Amendment Rights has 3 provisions: the excessive bail clause, the excessive fines clause, and cruel and punishment clause.
Excessive Bail Clause – this restricts the judicial discretion in setting bail to release the accused during the period following their arrest and preceding their trial.
Excessive Fines Clause – this provision limits the amount that the federal government and state may fine a convicted person for a particular crime.
Cruel and Unusual Punishment Clause – this restricts the severity of punishments that the federal government and the state may impose on a convicted person for their offense.
A competent criminal defense attorney will work for the protection of the rights of his client guaranteed under the 8th Amendment rights to U.S. Constitution.
Trial court judges are relatively not given much latitude under the ‘excessive bail clause’. The amount that the defendant must pledge to the court as a security for their appearance at trial is called ‘bail‘. A bail could amount to property, bond, or money. Once the defendant was able to pay the bail set by the court, they are entitled to recover the amount after the criminal proceedings. In the event that the defendant fails to appear on the scheduled proceedings, the court would forfeit the amount pledged and the defendant would still have to face the criminal penalties charged to them.
The court would consider the different factors before setting the amount of bail, such as: the evidences presented, the nature and the extent of the crime committed to the community where the defendant would be prosecuted, the ability of the defendant to pay the amount, and the likelihood of the defendant to flee if released.
The courts would attempt to set bail for a reasonable amount. The unreasonable amount of bail would only restrict the freedom of the defendant who might have been innocent until proven otherwise. The courts are aware that the bail needs to set higher to make sure that the defendant would return for trial. The possibility of fleeing the jurisdiction is unlikely if they would forfeit large amount of money. In this respect, a good Las Vegas criminal defense attorney must make the necessary moves to allow the courts to see his client in the best possible light.
With regard to the ‘excessive fine clause’, the fines imposed by a trial court judge will not be overturned on appeal unless it can be proven that the judge abused his or her discretion in assessing them. Under the “abuse-of-discretion” standard that is used for this purpose, an appellate court may overturn a fine that is arbitrary, capricious, or “so grossly excessive as to amount to a deprivation of property without due process of law”. Historically, fines are rarely overturned on appeal for any of these reasons.
The 8th Amendment rights requires that every punishment imposed by the federal as well as state government be commensurate with the offense committed by the defendant. Punishments that are disproportionately harsh may be overturned on appeal once it is shown that the ‘cruel and unusual punishment clause’ has been violated. If you are in prison as a result of a conviction for a criminal offense and you feel you are a victim of routine police brutality, you should get in touch with your criminal defense lawyer to help you invoke your 8th Amendment rights before the proper authorities.
Contact a criminal defense attorney for legal counsel today.