Texas Lawmakers Propose New Bail Laws
In Texas, if you are arrested for a crime, there are three possible things that could happen while you are awaiting trial, depending on the severity of the crime you are accused of. The judge could order you to stay in jail until your trial, he or she could release you on your own recognizance with the stipulation that you agree you will appear for your trial, or the judge could require the posting of bail so you can be released pending trial.
In the majority of criminal cases, a defendant is either released on their own recognizance or allowed to post bail so they can be released. However, a new bill in the Texas legislature could make it more difficult for many defendants to post that bail, leaving them to sit in jail until their trial.
Current Bail System in Texas
The more serious the crime, the higher the bail amount usually is. That full amount of bail needs to be posted in cash. The amount is often too high for most people to be able to access that amount of cash on their own. In these cases, the defendant can go to a bail bondsmen or bail agency.
In most situations when using a bail agency, the defendant is required to come up with 10 percent of the bail and the bail agency provides the other 90 percent. The defendant’s 10 percent can be in either cash or some other collateral that equals that amount. For example, if the judge has set the bail at $100,000, the defendant would have to provide the bail agency with $10,000 in cash or collateral.
Although bail agencies are an option for defendants, if the bail amount set by the court is high, they still may not even be able to afford the 10 percent the agencies require. In some cases, a defendant can turn to a charitable group for bail. There are a handful of these non-profit organizations that provide help to defendants who have no financial means at posting bail and would otherwise be forced to sit in jail until their trial.
Both the Texas House and Senate are working on a bill that would place greater restrictions on the type of offenses that a defendant can be released on personal recognizance and would now require cash bond. The bill would also restrict bail assistance from charity groups for those defendants required to post cash bail.
According to lawmakers, the goal of the final bill will be to keep people accused of committing violent crimes in jail until trial unless they have enough cash to post bail. They cite statistics that show that the number of defendants who committed crimes while out on bond during the past five years has more than tripled, from 3,200 arrests to more than 10,500.
But critics say the bill, if passed, will also seriously limit the ability of someone who is not a habitual criminal from receiving help, and will severely impact poorer defendants.
Contact a Denton County Defense Attorney
If you have been arrested and charged with a crime, a skilled Plano, TX defense lawyer can make sure all of your rights are protected as your case works its way through the criminal justice system, including your right to bail. Call The Crowder Law Firm, P.C. at 214-303-9600 to schedule a free and confidential consultation to find out how our law firm can help.