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Indiana Supreme Court: Bail Should Be Option In Murder Cases

Defendants no longer hold the burden of proof for why they should be allowed bail.

The Indiana Supreme Court says the burden is on prosecutors to prove accused murderers should be held without bail.

Indiana‘s constitution guarantees bail for most offenses, but says bail can be denied for murder or treason if “the proof is evident or the presumption strong.”

A 3-2 Supreme Court says it is up to prosecutors to provide that proof by a preponderance of the evidence.The ruling overturns a 147-year-old precedent of making defendants win the right to post bond.

Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys Council executive director David Powell says the ruling will likely mean more work for prosecutors, but says it is too soon to say what the change will mean beyond that. He notes each county has its own schedule of typical bail for different offenses.

“Now it looks like there will probably be a hearing in every case, where traditionally there was just simply no bail by statute in murder and required the defendant to present some evidence so bail generally wasn’t discussed in homicide cases,” he says.

The new standard will only come up in a handful of cases. The court says in fiscal 2011, just 193 Hoosiers were charged with murder.

The ruling is of no benefit to the Cass County murder suspect who filed the case. The court ruled 4-1 that prosecutors met their burden in denying bail to Loren Fry in a 2011 murder.

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