Tag Archives: murder

Indiana Supreme Court Ruling Shifts Burden Of Proof for Bail in Murder Cases

Jeff Downer  In the past defendants charged with murder (or treason) in the State of Indiana would have to present a compelling argument that the proof of their guilt was not strong in order to be admitted to bail.

Recently (June of 2013) the Indiana Supreme Court rearranged the playing field when it came to how it is determined whether defendants charged with murder or treason can be held without bail.  The new case law is that the burden of proof now falls on the state to prove that the defendant should not be admitted to bail:

We hold today that when a defendant charged with murder or treason seeks bail, the burden is on the State, if it seeks to deny bail, to show—by a preponderance of the evidence—that the proof is evident or the presumption strong.

As a practical matter I do not believe much has changed on whether those charged with murder will be held without bond.  Prosecutors rarely pursue murder cases with a poor chance of conviction (nor should they).  The threshold of evidence to be held without bail has not changed.  In fact as part of the ruling the court upheld the original finding that the defendant should be held without bail.

The burden has just been shifted from defendant proving the state has a poor case to the state proving they have a solid one.  The most visible impact I suspect will be more bail hearings on murder cases as prosecutors seek denial of bail.

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Is Murder a Bailable Offense in Indiana?

Jeff Downer  Author’s Note: In June, 2013 the Indiana Supreme Court issued a ruling which changed the scenario in which defendants charged with murder could be held without bail.  Find here a post relating these changes.

The recent arrests of three people in the house explosion on the Indianapolis south side brought to mind the topic of release on bail while charged with murder.

In Indiana the issue of being released on a bail bond is addressed by state statute as follows:

IC 35-33-8-2
Murder; other offenses
Sec. 2. (a) Murder is not bailable when the proof is evident or the presumption strong. In all other cases, offenses are bailable.
(b) A person charged with murder has the burden of proof that he should be admitted to bail.
As added by Acts 1981, P.L.298, SEC.2.

In plain language, murder is not a bailable offense unless the defendant (after a special hearing) can satisfy the court that the prosecution is unlikely to secure a murder conviction at trial.  Needless to say, such scenarios are rare.

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Posted in Bail, Bail Bonds, Indiana, Indianapolis, Law. Tagged with .