What is the highest bail ever set in the United States?

What is the highest bail a judge has ever set in the US?

Ray Buckey, key suspect in the infamous (and thoroughly fictional) McMartin Preschool Molestation Trial, was eventually released on $3 million bail, after spending five years in jail with no bail at all.

Not sure if that’s a record, but it’s gotta be close.

For possession or purchase for sale of certain specific or classified controlled substances or transport (and other conditions) of certain specific or classified controlled substances when over 80 kg in Orange County, the bail is $5,000,000. That is the largest amount that they set and I would imagine other areas have similar amounts for the same crimes.

Also, many classes of felonies are not eligible for bail.

I just spent the better part of a half hour reading about the details of the case you just mentioned. WOW. Some of the most insane stuff I’ve ever read:

*Bizarre allegations

Some of the children’s accusations were bizarre. Some alleged that, in addition to having been sexually abused, they saw witches fly, traveled in a hot-air balloon, and were taken in one case through secret underground tunnels, which were sought by investigators but never found. Ray Buckey was described as having beaten a giraffe to death with a baseball bat in front of the children. When shown a series of photographs by police, one child identified actor Chuck Norris as one of the abusers. There were claims of orgies at car washes and airports, and of children being flushed down toilets to secret rooms where they would be abused, then cleaned up and presented back to their unsuspecting parents. Some children said they were made to play a game called “Naked Movie Star” in which they were photographed nude. Despite a multi-million dollar world wide search in conjunction with Interpol, no child pornography was ever recovered during the investigation.*

I read the linked article and the Wikipedia entry. That is some astonishingly crazy bullshit.

Well, the judge must have really wanted this “massage parlor” owner to make her court date, because he set her bail at $1 billion, with a ‘B’.

And accused murderer and millionaire Robert Durst had his bail initially set at $3 billion, also with a ‘B’.

I seem to recall reading of a prostitute whom a judge just got tired of seeing, so he set her bail at some ridiculous amount, like $100 billion. I’ll have to find the book, though.

I think “no bail” is pretty high. As in “I don’t care how much money you have, you ain’t getting out”. I’m not sure why some judges set ridiculously high bails instead of just saying no bail. Bail is not a punishment, it is to ensure the defendent shows up for trial. The judge is supposed to weigh all the factors, flight risk, seriousness of the charges etc and come up with what he thinks will keep the guy around for a while. Setting a $1 billion bail instead of no bail is a way for the judge to get in the papers. I’m betting it was in a jurisdiction where judges are elected.

Re-reading the previous post in the case of Durst the billion dollar bail seems justified. He could absorb the loss of a couple million and go off to some island and retire. The high bail made sure he was there for trial.

Judges don’t always have the discretion of setting a case with no bail. In the Durst case, for example, I don’t think the judge could have denied bail. In Texas, bail can only be denied for capital murder, a felony prosecution with two prior felonies, commission of a new offense while on bail for a felony, or a deadly weapon finding with one felony prior. As far as I know, none of those applied to Durst. Since he was wealthy and considered a flight risk, a very high bond was the closest the judge could get to denial of bond.

Isn’t this unconstitutional?

“Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.”

It certainly sounds excessive to me.

Depends how you look at it, I suppose. Durst was a millionaire who had previously (on the same charges) paid $300,000 bail, then skipped town. So, he had demonstrated to the court that, first, he had substantial resources and paying a high bail didn’t mean much to him, and second, he didn’t have a problem running out on his court dates. I understand he even wore disguises to elude capture.

So, while it’s not very realistic to expect someone to deposit three billion in cash with the court, it’s not like he didn’t give them reason to doubt his willingness to submit to the court’s authority.