California residents may be interested to learn that the U.S. Supreme Court has refused to reconsider an appeals court decision striking down an Arizona law that denied bail to illegal immigrants charged with serious felonies. The rejection, announced on June 1, means that the lower court's ruling that the law is unconstitutional stands.
In 2006, 78 percent of Arizona voters approved a constitutional amendment that said judges could not release illegal immigrants on bail "if the proof is evident or the presumption great that the person is guilty of the offense charged." Three state and federal courts allowed the amendment to stand based on a 2003 Supreme Court case that found illegal immigrants can be jailed before trial because they may flee over fears of being deported. However, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit overturned those rulings based on a 1984 federal law that states judges must decide on a case-by-case basis if dangerous defendants should be jailed before trial. The court found that Arizona's law was a "scattershot attempt" to combat flight risk. The majority of the Supreme Court declined to intervene. The court's three most conservative members, Justices Samuel Alito, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, would have heard the case.
Defendants charged with capital offenses can be denied bail in 22 states, and those charged with crimes that threaten a life sentence can be denied bail in six states. However, only Arizona, Alabama and Missouri have laws that deny bail based on immigration status.
Anyone facing immigration issues based upon alleged criminal activities may benefit by consulting with an attorney. Immigration attorneys can review the details of a particular case and recommend the best course of legal action.