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Denial of Bail Following Violent Home Invasion Upheld on Appeal

In State of Vermont v. Evan P. Ford, 2015 VT 127 (September 29, 2015) a three judge panel of the Vermont Supreme Court upheld the trial court decision to deny the Defendant bail.

Issue: Following a home invasion and assault, the Defendant was charged with four offenses carrying a maximum sentence of life in prison, including attempted murder. During the underlying incident, the Defendant broke into a home, discharged a firearm and threatened to kill two people while searching for a third person who was ultimately not in the home.Following his arrest, the Defendant continued to threaten the life of his intended target in the presence of police officers. The Defendant argued that the trial court erred in refusing to grant him bail. He advanced several factors which favored bail, including his lack of an extensive criminal record, the availability of housing and supervision to be provided by his family, his ties to the community and a lack of evidence he would flee or fail to appear. Nevertheless, the trial court denied bail. Defendant appealed.

Holding: The Court affirmed the trial court’s decision and determined it did not abuse its discretion in determining that bail was not appropriate. The Court considered that Defendant’s offenses were particularly violent in nature and were committed against two victims who were not his original targets. As such, if released on bail the risk to third parties and public safety was particularly high. The Court noted that the trial court considered the factors supporting bail advanced by the Defendant but, in weighing them against the violent nature of his crimes and risk to public safety, determined that bail was not appropriate.

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