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How bail may influence the justice system

According to a study from the American Economic Review, there are roughly 500,000 people in U.S. jails awaiting trial on any given day. The main reason why Washington residents and others may face this situation is a lack of money. The study also found that the average defendant made less than $7,000 in the year before they were taken into custody. Therefore, less than half were able to make bail even when set at $5,000 or less.

One of the findings of the study was that merely holding people prior to trial had an impact on whether they would plead guilty in their cases. Those who are released prior to trial are 14 percent less likely to be found guilty. This is because a person who is out of jail is 10.8 percent less likely to plead guilty as they generally feel less pressure to do so.

A person who is charged with a crime can face a variety of short- and long-term consequences. These consequences are more severe for those who are actually convicted of a crime. Convicted criminals often have trouble finding employment and re-entering society.

However, legal counsel could help keep any potential penalties to a minimum. A lawyer might help an alleged offender obtain affordable bail, which would allow that person to be released while a case is being resolved. This can increase the odds that an individual has time to negotiate a favorable plea deal or obtain a full acquittal. This may be done by having evidence suppressed or arguing that there was no intent to commit a crime.

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