Thomas Jefferson Papers

58. A Bill Directing What Prisoners Shall Be Let to Bail, 18 June 1779

58. A Bill Directing What Prisoners Shall Be Let to Bail

For ascertaining in what cases persons apprehended on suspicion of felony shall, or shall not, be admitted to bail, Be it enacted by the General Assembly that those shall be let to bail who are apprehended for any crime not punishable in life or limb: And if the crime be so punishable, but only a light suspicion of guilt fall on the party he shall in like manner, be bailable: But if the crime be punishable in life or limb, or if it be manslaughter, and there be good cause to believe the party guilty thereof, he shall not be admitted to bail.

No person shall be bailed after conviction of any felony.

If any Justice let any go at large, on bail, who is not bailable, or refuse to admit to bail any who have right to be so admitted, after they shall have offered sufficient bail; or require excessive bail, he shall be punished by imprisonment and amercement1 at the discretion of a jury.

Report description begins Report of the Committee of Revisors Appointed by the General Assembly of Virginia in MDCCLXXVI, Richmond, 1784 description ends , p. 42–3. Text of Act as adopted is in Hening, description begins William W. Hening, The Statutes at Large; Being a Collection of All the Laws of Virginia description ends xii, 185–6.

Bill was presented by Madison 31 Oct. 1785, amended 29 Nov., passed by House 2 Dec., and approved by Senate 5 Dec. (JHD description begins Journal of the House of Delegates of the Commonwealth of Virginia (cited by session and date of publication) description ends , Oct. 1785, 1828 edn., p. 12–15, 64, 69, 72, 132). Except for the usual clause putting the Act into effect 1 Jan. 1787 and except for the difference noted below, the Bill as proposed and the Act as adopted are the same.

1The Act reads: “he shall be amerced at the discretion of a jury.”

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