October 1, 2003 98-R-0281
FROM: Christopher Reinhart, Research Attorney
RE: Bail After Conviction
You asked about Connecticut law concerning bail after conviction.
Connecticut law allows a person who has been convicted of any offense to be eligible for bail while waiting for sentencing or an appeal. The court may release the person unless it finds that custody is necessary to assure appearance in court. One of five conditions concerning the promise or bond to return to court must be met before bail can be granted but the statute does not provide any further limitations on when bail may be granted (CGS § 54-63f).
Post conviction bail is a matter within the court's discretion under the statute. It is “entirely disassociated from the preconviction presumption of innocence” and constitutional rights are not implicated under either the United States or the Connecticut constitutions as they are with pre-conviction bail (State v. Menillo, 159 Conn. 264 (1970)). Bail is considered to be the “by-product of custody” and a power inherent in the court as long as the prisoner is in its custody (State v. Chisolm, 29 Conn. Sup. 339 (1971)). The courts possessed this power under the common law and the enactment of the statute “did not change the essential discretionary nature of bail after conviction…” (Chisolm, 29 Conn. Sup. at 341).
The power to admit to bail may be within the court's absolute discretion but it is a power to be exercised “with great caution,” consideration of the nature and circumstances of the case, and rarely to be allowed when the crime is serious (State v. Menillo, 159 Conn. 264 (1970)), citing to State v. Vaughan, 71 Conn. 457, 460). In a recent case, the Superior Court dealing with a petition for habeas corpus heard a request to be admitted to bail. The court recognized its discretionary powers but denied bail based on the seriousness of the crime involved which was a conviction for murder (Townsend v. Warden, No. CV 91 1223 S (Superior Court unreported 1995)).
Any accused person or the state can appeal an order concerning release under CGS § 54-63g. The power inherent in the court over bail also includes the power to alter or revoke bail (State v. Chisolm, 29 Conn. Sup. 339 (1971)). When custody of an individual is transferred to the custodian of the penal institution, the judgment and sentence of the court is executed and the jurisdiction of the court is terminated. The filing of an appeal can operate as a stay of execution under CGS § 54-95(b) and this prevents the transfer to the penal institution. The court then retains jurisdiction over the individual and has the power to admit to bail as well as the power to alter or revoke bail. This may include incarceration but the court will retain jurisdiction over the individual until the stay of execution is terminated (Chisolm). In Chisolm, the court revoked post-conviction bail based on several incidents involving narcotics and possible narcotics traffic which were judged to show probable jeopardy to the welfare of the community.