The Effect of Attorney Type on Bail Decisions

AuthorMarian R. Williams
Published date01 February 2017
Date01 February 2017
Subject MatterArticles
Criminal Justice Policy Review
2017, Vol. 28(1) 3 –17
© 2014 SAGE Publications
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DOI: 10.1177/0887403414562603
The Effect of Attorney
Type on Bail Decisions
Marian R. Williams1
The U.S. Supreme Court has indicated that defendants are entitled to effective
assistance of counsel. Despite this, many research studies and anecdotal evidence
suggest that defense counsel, particularly appointed counsel, struggles to provide
effective assistance, especially with regard to case outcomes. These studies suggest
that having appointed counsel negatively affects case outcomes, such as conviction
and sentencing, in that those with appointed counsel are more likely to be convicted
and/or sentenced to longer incarceration terms. Previous research has largely
ignored earlier stages of a case and the effect of type of counsel on these earlier
case outcomes. The current study examines the effect of counsel—public defender
versus retained—on bail decisions in Florida. Previous research has indicated that bail
decisions have an effect on the outcome of a case, so the importance of bail decisions
cannot be overlooked.
courts, criminal court, bail decisions
The Eighth Amendment guarantees the right against excessive bail, but it does not
guarantee the right to be granted bail. Despite this, many states allow for the right to
bail, except in the case of capital crimes. Historically, bail decisions have been based
on issues such as the seriousness of the offense, the flight risk of the defendant, and
risk to the community (Hegreness, 2013). As such, judges make decisions every day
about whether defendants should be granted bail. Most defendants are given the oppor-
tunity to make bail, but are unable to secure their release due to financial constraints
(Kalhous & Meringolo, 2012). This is problematic, as defendants who are unable to
1Appalachian State University, Boone, NC, USA
Corresponding Author:
Marian R. Williams, Appalachian State University, 2028 Anne Belk Hall, ASU Box 32107, Boone, NC
28607, USA.
562603CJPXXX10.1177/0887403414562603Criminal Justice Policy ReviewWilliams

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