'The Jinx' Robert Durst Denied Bail

By Christopher Coble, Esq. on March 24, 2015 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Robert Durst will be staying in jail for the foreseeable future. Now that authorities have Durst in their grasp, they aren't going to let him go any time soon.

A Louisiana magistrate denied bond, also known as bail, for Robert Durst at a bail hearing in New Orleans. Durst was arrested recently after "The Jinx," an HBO documentary, showed him allegedly confessing to killing a California woman and his wife. He was also charged with illegally owning weapons and drugs. Prosecutors argued that Durst is a flight risk, and the magistrate agreed. Durst's lawyer, Dick DeGuerrin, didn't put up much of a fight and did not seek bail.

When can a judge refuse to grant bail?

Right To Bail?

The United States Supreme Court has held that it is constitutional to hold a defendant without bail pending a criminal trial. Since there is no absolute right to bail, judges have the discretion to grant or deny bail and to determine the amount of bail.

The Eighth Amendment does state that bail should not be excessive. Bail should only be used as a tool to ensure that a defendant shows up to trial. It should not be a tool for the government to raise money or to punish the defendant for being arrested.

Since bail determination is discretionary, do you think the judge was right to not grant Durst any bail?

To Bail or Not to Bail?

In determining whether or not to grant bail, judges look at the seriousness of the alleged crime, the defendant's past criminal record, his ties to the community, the possible risk to the public, and the potential flight risk.

In this case, prosecutors argued that Durst was a major flight risk. Durst allegedly had up to 10 aliases, nearly $43,000 in cash, a gun, a mask to hide his face, and fake documents when he was arrested. Prosecutors claimed that Durst stopped using his personal cell phone because he knew the police were following him. The prosecution also believes that Durst was trying to flee to Cuba. Because of the seriousness of the murder charge and all these facts against him, it was very unlikely that a judge would have granted Durst bail.

Durst's lawyer, recognizing the futility of arguing for bail, decided to focus instead on his arrest. DeGuerrin claims that the arrest was illegal because the FBI did not have a warrant to search Durst's hotel room and arrest him. While we await further proceedings on this case, Robert Durst might yet slip through prosecutors' fingers.

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