Indiana murder defendants can petition for bond hearing

Court: Right to bail is not absolute right

INDIANAPOLIS - A new change in state law has police in Indianapolis cringing for the first time in more than three decades because defendants arrested for murder now have a right to bail.

The Indiana Supreme Court ruled the statute unconstitutional because at the bail hearing, the law required the defendant to prove his innocence rather than the state trying to prove his guilt.

Since the ruling one month ago, five defendants, including 16-year-old Darius Altgilbers, charged in a June 24 homicide  in the 800 block of Cloverleaf Terrace, have petitioned the court for bond.

In every case, the judge denied bail. But attorney Jack Crawford, a former Lake County Prosecutor and now a criminal defense lawyer, sees problems for the state.

“Defendants always want to know what the state's case is all about. It's sort of a way for the defendant to find that out through the type of bail hearing and see what the strengths and weaknesses are of the particular case," Crawford said.

Through July 27, the city of Indianapolis had recorded 72 homicides. All of the defendants in custody awaiting trial will now have the right to request a bail hearing.

Deputy Prosecutor Jacob Rigney, who successfully blocked a murder defendant's request for bail in the Cloverleaf shooting, doesn't expect the change to become overly burdensome for the state.

"You work in this job for a while, you get used to making adjustments. And this is just another thing that we'll have to adjust to. It's important. But it's not something we can't deal with," Rigney said.

The right to bail is a highly valued right. But according to the State Supreme Court, it's not an absolute right when the proof is evident and the presumption of guilt is strong.

Follow Jack Rinehart on Twitter: @jackrinehart6

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