Bail until sentancing

Why is this a thing? Shouldn’t all criminals be remanded until sentencing (or have sentencing take place in the same court in any minor offences that wouldn’t warrant jail time?)

There must be a class of cases where, until the court has considered all the factors relevant to sentencing, it’s not possible to say whether a custodial sentence will be found appropriate. In those cases, remaining on bail until the sentencing hearing seems appropriate. And of course it’s also appropriate in those cases where it’s clear that a custodial sentence will not be found appropriate.

The default is that someone who hasn’t been sentenced to imprisonment shouldn’t be in prison. Is that not self-evident? You’d need a compelling reason, such as a significant flight risk, to justify keeping them in custody.

Being found guilty is a compelling enough reason for anyone.

Except that it isn’t. Most people who are bailed pending sentencing don’t skip bail; they turn up for sentencing. So it seems they don’t find being found guilty a compelling reason for flight.

Why? Not everyone convicted of an offence that carries the possibility of a custodial sentence actually receives the custodial sentence. There are many crimes where the statute provides for a sentence of “a fine of not more than X dollars or imprisonment for not more than X years”. And even then the judge often has the power to suspend the sentence.

In the federal system and many state systems, it’s not unusual for there to be a delay between the sentencing date and the prison reporting date for white collar and certain non-violent convicts. This allows the convicts to get their affairs in order, such as selling their house, wrapping up their business, arranging for childcare, etc. It also gives prison authorities a chance to schedule intake at their convenience. I’m sure you are aware of the story of Piper Chapman.

For example, a married couple with children (a congressman and a city council member) were convicted a few years ago. The congressman was allowed to serve his sentence first so that his wife could care for the children. After he served his sentence, they switched places.

In the UK, it’s not uncommon for people to be bailed until sentencing, though it may well be argued over, based on the risk of flight or the possibility of further offences (e.g., revenge on witnesses or something like that).

Even if the judge warns them there may be a likelihood of a custodial sentence, they may well be bailed to give them time to sort out their affairs, particularly for white-collar crimes.

For “dangerous” criminals it’s quite rare*. For the average Joe, it happens and it’s not a problem. Of all the things that could (and should) be fixed in our criminal justice system, bail before sentencing is not even on the radar.
*because bail being posted before plea/trial is also pretty rare in those cases. If someone has been out of custody until they are found guilty (usually by plea), they can stay out until sentencing or even report date as far as I’m concerned. In addition to the benefits to the defendant (getting affairs in order) it’s also easier for the system, with more predictable reporting dates, minimizing the use of local jails as holding places until transfer to the prison.

Not necessarily. Many people have cooperated with the system throughout the process and, now that they are facing sentencing, have many things that they need to set in order before the court passes sentence. They are usually required to surrender their passport as a condition of bail, and running/hiding in the US only postpones the inevitable as well as compounding the punishment.