Can a Person Charged with Murder get a Bond in Indiana?

In Indiana, and many other states for that matter, when someone is charged with murder they are normally held without bond.  This generally seems inconsistent with a system that presumes someone is innocent.  Being held in jail pending trial when you know you have been wrongfully charged can be incredibly frustrating, many times leading to severe bouts of depression.

I.C. 35-33-8-2 states, “Murder is not bailable when the proof is evident or the presumption is strong.  In all other cases, offenses are bailable.”  This results in almost all people being charged with murder at least initially, being held without bond.  However, that is not the final answer.  The statute evident proof and showing a strong presumption.

This portion of the statute allows a defendant to request, by motion, that the court allow a bail in a murder case when the proof is not evident or the presumption is not strong.  The Indiana courts have addressed this in numerous cases.  The leading case in this area of law is Fry vs. State, 990 N.E.2d 429 (Ind. 2013).  In this Indiana Supreme Court case the, the Court decided a number of issues regarding bail in murder cases.  First, the Court found that the burden to establish a defendant is not entitled to bail rests with the State.  The Supreme Court found it unconstitutional to place that burden on the defendant.

Next, was addressing what the burden means.  The statute requires the proof must be evident and the presumption must be strong.  The Court found that this standard of proof falls somewhere between probable cause and beyond a reasonable doubt.

Basically, the court determined to utilize the preponderance evidence standard is the appropriate standard.  Therefore, the State must show that is was more likely than not that the defendant committed the murder.  If it is more likely than not that the defendant did not commit the homicide then bail should be allowed.

This burden cannot be satisfied with he charging information alone.  The State must also present competent evidence either upon which the charging documents relied or the State intends to rely on at trial.  The proof cannot be just statements from the prosecutor.  See Id at 449. 

This will require the state to produce some evidence and likely testimony of witnesses to meet this burden.  This could include physical evidence and testimony, but it must be enough to convince a judge with admissible evidence that the defendant is more likely than not guilty.

There are a number of strategic and legal basis an attorney may decide that a motion to let bail hearing may be appropriate or not in any given murder case.  If you or a loved one are being held on a murder charge, this procedure is one to consider.  The attorneys at Banks & Brower have the knowledge and background to assist you in your legal situation.  You can contact us 24 hours 7 days a week at 317-870-0019.