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RHODE ISLAND CRIMINAL DEFENSE
A Practice Manual, 4th Edition
© John E. MacDonald
The court is required to make a two-tiered finding after a bail hearing:
Under tier one, the court must weigh the evidence, in the light most favorable to the state, without assessing credibility, to determine if ‘proof of guilt is evident or the presumption great’ that a non-bailable offense was committed and that the defendant committed it. If tier one is satisfied, the court may hold the defendant without bail unless discretion is exercised under tier two.
‘Proof of guilt evident or presumption great’ is a standard higher than probable cause and equivalent to the reasonable satisfaction standard of a violation hearing.
Massey v. Mullen, 366 A.2d 1144 (R.I. 1976).
“the standard of proof at a bail hearing was, for all intents and purposes, the same as that at a violation hearing. Id. at 1147.
“to interpret the words ‘when the proof of guilt is evident or the presumption great’ as signifying no more than probable cause would render Art. I, § IX meaningless, since in no event may an accused be lawfully imprisoned without a preliminary showing of probable cause.” Id. at 1148.
Under tier two, a court may exercise its discretion to set bail in light of defendant’s ties to the community, respect for the law, and the likelihood of conviction at trial.
State v. Abbott, 322 A.2d 33, 35 (R.I. 1974). Sets out the types of evidence to be considered at bail hearings in general:
The habits of the individual regarding respect for the law in regard to whether the defendant’s release would pose a threat to the community.
Local attachments to the community by way of family ties, business, or investments.
The severity of the likely sentence imposed and the question of whether the defendant would remove himself or herself from the jurisdiction of the court.”
SUP. CT. R. CRIM. P. 46(c): Terms (of Release on Bail)
If the defendant is admitted to bail, the terms thereof shall be such as in the judgment of the court will insure the presence of the defendant, having regard to the nature and circumstances of the offense charged, the weight of the evidence against the defendant, the financial ability of the defendant to give bail, the character of the defendant, and the policy against unnecessary detention of defendants pending trial.
Massey v. Mullen, 366 A.2d 1144 (R.I. 1976). A bail hearing, unlike a violation of probation hearing, is forward-looking; therefore, the state’s evidence must be admissible at trial.
“…the state must make out a case that demonstrates not only a factual probability of guilt but it must produce evidence that is legally sufficient to support a conviction.” Id. at 1148.
Gillissie v. Vose, December 20, 1996 unpublished Supreme Court Order. The defendant may elect to call witnesses and introduce evidence on his own behalf.
“…the hearing justice may permit the petitioner to present such evidence as may be appropriate, including testimony of defense witnesses and any rebuttal thereto, to permit the hearing justice to exercise his discretion on the question of bail…”
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