What Does Bail Look Like in Oregon?

There is no such thing as a bond in Oregon, and there is no bondsman. Under the Oregon Constitution, you do have the right to bail, which is just a condition set to ensure your appearance at future court dates or to be a security. This is a monetary bail, which most people think bail equals money. When you’re using the term bail, equating that with money, you’re actually talking about what’s known in Oregon as “Security”. What happens is that if you are taken into custody, if you are arrested and you are brought before a judge for arraignment, the judge will make a decision to either release you on your own recognizance or release you based on a certain security amount.

A judge can impose a security amount of anywhere from $5,000 (or potentially less), but usually what I see is $10,000 all the way up to $250,000 for the most egregious type of charges. Those types of cases usually involve the safety of children. If you cannot afford to post bail, Oregon is one of the states that is moving towards a risk-based assessment, an evidence based model that different counties are developing, rather than just paying your way out. What is clear is that money does not ensure public safety. Certain risk assessment tools are being used to analyze who is fit for release pre-trial, and who needs to be detained pre-trial. Previous to this movement, it was basically if you could afford to get out of jail, you got out of jail; if you couldn’t afford to get out of jail, you stayed in jail. We have lower income people, middle income people that can’t afford just to come up with the full amount right away. Many times, you see them sitting in jail all the way up until their trial date.

Certain foundations across the country have studied and found that money bail or security has no effect on ensuring public safety, or ensuring that somebody is going to appear at court in the future. When polled, most citizens actually were kind of stunned to find out that people were just being released from the fact of whether or not they had money. 75% of people polled in these tests actually prefer pretrial risk assessment release, as opposed to a money release. Because of this, right now in Oregon, we are at the very starting pointing for switching over to a risk-based assessment release model. Ideally, the risk assessment release model would quantify someone who is a lower risk defendant.

The conditions or factors that would be taken in consideration are if the defendant is employed, their criminal history, the strength of their community ties, whether or not they have residence in county, are they a family person, are they married, do they support children, access to treatment, and things like that. Those types of factors, and also the history of failing to appear at other court appearances, play a role in risk-based assessment. If you have failed to appear at other court appearances, that would go against you being released. The reason that Oregon and other states across the country are really switching over to this model is because we’re finding out that holding someone, detaining someone prior to trial is actually contrary to the very foundations of our constitution. We cannot deprive individuals from liberty without due process of law, and someone is innocent until proven guilty.

What happens is that poorer individuals will sit in jail, just because they can’t afford to be released. Studies have shown that defendants not released at pre-trial are 3 times more likely to go to prison than people that are released, and defendants are more likely to have prison sentences twice as long if they are detained than those that are released prior to trial. Based on these real evidence based practices, and these types of studies done by the Arnold Foundation and other organizations advocating for pretrial release, it actually shows that people are being detained prior to trials causes a greater harm to the community. They are putting people out of work—people that aren’t working can’t support their family, people that aren’t working can’t maintain the residence, people that aren’t working can’t continue treatment.

Therefore we are just funneling more and more people without money into the prison system—essentially by taking the supports way from people and throwing them into the prison system, and we’re trying to move away from that.

For more information on Bail Process In Oregon, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (503) 345-7488 today.

Shannon I. Wilson, Esq.

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