The bail bond, perhaps not very surprisingly, has its roots in the Roman Empire. However, the current bail bonds system, as we know it in the United States, is probably most influenced historically by rules that reformed the English system of bail in the 17th century, a bit under 100 years before our nation’s founding.

In 1677 the there were some reforms to the notion of “habeas corpus,” which literally translated means something along the lines of “have the body,” and means something like: “you shall have the body.” This is the core principle that requires the production of a person before a court, and prevents their being held without charge. The 1677 revisions required that it be magistrates who set bail.

A further, second reform took place a dozen years later in 1689, and had ramifications for our current, American system of bail bonds. In that year, it was made law that bail bonds not be set at excessively high rates. This is a central principle of our current system of bail.

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