History of Bail

Bail law originated from British common law. The American Constitution guarantees, in the Eighth Amendment, that excessive bail shall not be required. This statement of law comes directly from English statutes. The Supreme Court ruling cited in Taylor vs. Taintor, 16 Wall, 366, defined the bondsman's authority to arrest their principal. It reads, "When bail is given, the principal is regarded as delivered to the custody of his sureties. Their dominion is a continuation of the original imprisonment. Whenever they choose to do so, they may seize him and deliver him up in their discharge, and if that cannot be done at once, they may imprison him until it can be done. They may exercise their rights in person or by agent. They may pursue him into another state; may arrest him on the Sabbath; and, if necessary, may break and enter his house for that purpose. The seizure is not made by virtue of new process. None is needed. It is likened to the rearrest by the Sheriff of an escaping prisoner." Until the 1960s, each sheriff oversaw the governance of bail on a county-by-county basis. The North Carolina Department of Insurance now regulates the licensure of bail in the State of North Carolina in all 100 counties.


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