Important Changes to Texas Bail System

Texas has made it much harder for those accused of violent crimes to post bail to get out of prison pending their trial. The Texas Legislature has passed and Governor Abbot has signed into law a bill that requires those standing trial for violent crimes to post cash bail to get out of prison. This will mean major changes to the criminal justice process in the state.

Previously, suspects have been able to post bail through the use of a bond. This is a promise to pay if they do not show up to stand trial for their charges. A bail bondsman acts as a surety, and the suspect pays the bondsman a certain amount to make the promise to pay. This reduces the amount of money that a suspect needs to make bail because they do not need to put up the money upfront.

Defendants have also been released on a personal bond for some lower-level crimes, requiring them to promise to wear GPS monitors and undergo drug testing. They also must pay a small percentage of the bail amount within seven days after their release.

SB6 Will Make Bail Much Harder

However, Governor Abbot declared the state’s bail bond system an emergency prior to the last legislative session, and the Legislature acted. Now, bail for violent crimes will no longer be cashless. Defendants will either need to put up the cash bond themselves or pay a percentage of the cash to the bail bondsman. There will be some financial obligation for defendants that must be paid as a condition for release. In addition, personal bonds are now banned for violent crimes. The bill is actually a major boost to the bail bonding industry, and it pushed for the changes.

Further, judges will now be able to better review a defendant’s criminal history before they set bail. Presumably, this will raise the amount of bail for those who have a prior criminal record, especially if the crimes are more severe. The net effect of this legislation is that it will be difficult for more defendants to make the bail that they need to get out of prison.

There are serious concerns that this new law will have a disproportionate impact on lower-income communities, forcing defendants who do not have these assets to remain in prison awaiting trial. Especially with violent crimes, bail is set at high levels. Most defendants do not have this money available to them. In addition, they will need to use their assets to pay legal fees during the trial.

Now, this new bill makes the bail determination even more important. If bail is set too high, chances are that the defendant will have little ability to pay it.

Contact Our Austin TX Criminal Defense Lawyers

These changes to the bail system make it even more important to have a lawyer when facing criminal charges. Contact the law firm of Granger and Mueller PC online or call us at (512) 474-9999 to get the legal advice that you critically need.