The ultimate goal in a criminal case is to get acquitted or to have the state drop the charges against you, but a long process leads up to either of these outcomes. Defendants in criminal cases have the right to due process of law, which includes a fair trial that is not subject to unreasonable delays and where the prosecution does not conceal evidence from the defendant and does not show unlawfully obtained evidence to the jury. While the law protects defendants from being imprisoned without being convicted of a crime, the state has the choice to detain a defendant in jail or to let him or her go free until the trial (or, in the case of a guilty plea, until the sentencing hearing), with or without posting bail. In addition to helping you fight your charges, a Texas criminal defense lawyer can help you avoid being detained in jail while your case is pending.
How Does Bail Work in Texas?
In Texas, as in other states, the court decides shortly after a defendant’s arrest whether to keep the defendant detained in jail until the trial or whether to let him or her go free while the case is in progress. Before the jail will release you, though, the court may require you to post a bond, which is a promise that you will appear in court when ordered to do so. In some cases, a verbal promise is enough, but in other cases, you must provide money or assets as collateral; this is known as posting bail. The court returns the money to you at your trial, but it keeps it if you do not show up to court.
The Eighth Amendment to the Constitution prohibits excessive bail, but it is not specific about what constitutes a reasonable amount or an excessive amount. If you cannot afford to pay your entire bail amount, you can sign an agreement with a bail bond company. The bail bond company posts your bail, and of course, the court refunds it at your trial; your end of the agreement is that you pay the bail bond company a non-refundable amount, usually ten percent of your bail.
Why Would the Court Refuse to Allow a Defendant to Post Bail?
If you think that it is unfair for the court to let people go free until their trials if they can afford ten percent of their bail but to keep them in jail if they can’t, you are right. Your lawyer may be able to make this argument if the court has ordered you to pay bail, but there is no reason that it is unsafe to let you go free. The court often refuses to let defendants post bail if they were arrested while out on parole or on bail. Another situation in which bail is not an option is if the judge reasonably fears that the defendant will try to destroy evidence, intimidate witnesses, or will not show up to the trial.
Contact the Law Office of Patrick J. McLain, PLLC About Criminal Defense Cases
A criminal defense lawyer can help you avoid spending time behind bars before and after your trial. Contact the Law Office of Patrick J. McLain, PLLC, in Dallas, Texas, to discuss your case.