One of the cornerstones of the American justice system, especially when it comes to jury trials, is the presumption that each defendant is innocent until proven guilty. This presumption helps to uphold the tradition of a fair and unbiased trial in the name of the law. Judges even go so far as to inform the jury that the pre-trial detention of a defendant shouldn’t have any bearing on the jury’s ability to make a fair, unbiased, fact-based judgement at the end of the trial.
Subconsciously, though, the presumption of innocence goes out the window the second a defendant appears in court wearing a prison uniform and shackles. This is especially true of defendants who are already in prison and on trial for another crime or who have prior offenses on their record.
Pre-trial releases help to quell negative presumptions about a defendant and give them a truly fair shot at an unbiased trial.
What Is the Purpose of Pre-Trial Release?
Pre-trial release mandates vary on a state-by-state basis. In Texas, defendants that have been convicted of violent crimes such as murder or physical assault and are deemed likely to reoffend don’t qualify for pre-trial release because they pose a safety risk to the community. Other disqualifications for pre-trial release include violation of protection orders (restraining orders) that are in place to protect family members or minors.
Qualification for pre-trial release is decided on a case-by-case basis usually after a comprehensive assessment of the nature of the case and the crime that the defendant is being accused of. In some cases, a full psychiatric evaluation may be mandated to assess the mental state of the accused to ensure that they comprehend the stipulations of the trial.
Defendants who do qualify for pre-trial release must sign a bond contract. This allows the defendant to be released from detainment after their bail is posted. Bail can be posted by the defendant, someone they know, or a bail bonds agent. The bail amount is set by the court and the bond agreement is activated once the amount is paid in full.
There are three bail bond options:
- Cash payment
- Personal recognizance
Once the bail amount is paid, the defendant must abide by the agreed upon rules and regulations of their bond agreement. Failure to do so will result in serious consequences that will be determined by the court.
Laws for Pre-Trial Release in Texas
The following is a list of general stipulations that accused defendants should know about prior to their trial.
Pre-Trial Release Eligibility
Pre-trial release isn’t a given right in every case. As mentioned, defendants with a history of violent crimes who are likely to reoffend or who are currently being accused of a violent crime such as capital a offense are automatically ineligible for pre-trial release. This is for the protection and safety of the community at large and the victims or potential victims of the crime in question.
Pre-Trial Release Conditions
Defendants can be released on personal recognizance once they’ve been deemed eligible for pre-trial release. Conditions for pre-trial release in Texas can include:
- Cash deposit
- Commercial surety
- A form of secured bond
- Supervision stipulations and other requirements pertaining to the nature of the case and the temperament and mental state of the accused
Defendants are usually detained immediately after arrest and given the opportunity to speak to an attorney. If they qualify for pre-trial release, then they’ll be released and allowed to go home as long as they post bail and agree to abide by the contractual bond agreements.
However, defendants that are charged with felonies, have two prior felony convictions, or a history of offenses involving a deadly weapon require a hearing to deny pre-trial release. In the meantime, they may be detained pending the results of the pre-trial hearing or the posting of their bail.
Low-Cost Pre-Trial Release
Historically, bail postings were often set at exorbitantly high amounts to essentially price out most people from being able to post bail. However, states like California and Texas have committed to lowering the bail amounts to make them more affordable for family members and loved ones of accused defendants.
Tarrant County, Texas has a low-cost pre-trial release system in place to ensure that low-income families can post bail without taking a financially devastating risk or having to apply for additional loans.
Of course, the usual stipulations for posting bail and being granted pre-trial release apply. If the defendant is being accused of a nonviolent crime and doesn’t have a prior history of committing a capital offense, then they’ll most likely be granted a pre-trial release. As always, defendants charged with violent crimes or who have a history of violence are likely to be disqualified from receiving pre-trial release.
Bond Reduction Hearing
The eighth amendment of the constitution grants defendants the right to reasonable bail in criminal cases. If the defendant can’t afford to post bail, then their attorney can request a bail reduction hearing. Bail reduction hearings take the following conditions into consideration:
- The financial state of the defendant and their family members
- Whether the defendant poses a serious threat to the community at large or the trial witnesses
- The role of the defendant in their local community
- The amount and type of evidence presented against the defendant
- The type and severity of the offense in question
Depending on the facts and evidence presented during the bail reduction hearing, most judges in Tarrant County are usually inclined to reduce the bail amount.
Hire an Experienced Bail Bondsman in Tarrant County
If you or someone you know has been arrested and need the help of a reliable bail bonds service in Texas, look no further than PCS Bail Bonds. Our experienced bail bonds agents in Fort Worth and Tarrant County have helped numerous clients obtain pre-trial release and we can help you too. Book a consultation today with one of our knowledgeable bail bondsmen in Tarrant County.