You may have heard the term “excessive bail,” but what does it really mean? Bail encourages defendants to show up to their court dates without having to keep them incarcerated until their trial. After posting bail, if you don’t show up for court, you could be responsible for the entire amount of the bail, plus fines and interest.
Texas Constitution Prohibits Excessive Bail
Texas’ state constitution protects defendants from excessive bail. The amount of bail in Texas is within the discretion of the trial court subject to the following five rules:
- The bail amount should be high enough that it encourages the defendant to appear in court.
- The amount should not be so high that it oppresses or discriminates against the accused.
- The judge should consider the nature of the offense and the circumstances under which it was committed.
- The ability to make bail is to be regarded, and proof may be taken upon this point.
- The future safety of the victim of the alleged offense and the community shall be considered.
The Burden is on the Defendant
The defendant has the burden of presenting facts in these proceedings that would grant him relief. This burden must say that the defendant establishes a sufficient record upon which a reversal could be made by a reviewing court. Texas courts of appeals will not reverse a trial court’s bail determination unless these two evidentiary and procedural requisites are met.
Factors for Reasonableness of Bail
When assessing the reasonableness of bail, the Court of Criminal Appeals has instructed the lower appeal courts that the two primary factors to consider are 1) the punishment that can be imposed and 2) the nature of the offense. Code of Criminal Procedures also authorizes a magistrate to impose other conditions of bail, such as:
- Non-contact with victim
- Communication restrictions
- GPS monitoring
- Travel limitations
- Drug testing
- Motor vehicle ignition interlock devices
- Submission of specimen for DNA sampling
- Counseling, education and instruction on AIDS and HIV awareness
Bail is to Help Prevent Punishment Before Conviction
The constitutional rule governing conditions is that they must not reasonably infringe on a defendant’s constitutional rights.The state’s high court has set forth three criteria for determining the appropriateness of a bail condition:
- It must be reasonable;
- It must be to secure the defendant’s presence at trial; and
- It must be related to the safety of the alleged victim or the community.
Get Out of Jail Fast with A-EZ Out Bail Bonds
Excessive bail is bail that is much higher than is usually imposed for a specific charge or that is much more than is required to incentivize a defendant to appear in court. Bail should not be used to punish someone who is accused of a crime but rather to protect the interests of the community. If you believe that your bail is excessive, you can file an appeal with the courts to request that it be lowered. Our experienced bail bondsmen will get started in your case as soon as we get your call. If you’re facing jail time, call A-EZ Out right away.