After an arrest, it could be some time before a defendant goes to trial. The accused does not always pose a threat to public safety, which is why bail is allowed in many instances. By paying bail, a defendant could get a pretrial release.
What is Bail?
In Texas, bail involves the exchange of an item of value in order to obtain one’s release from jail. This is usually a set amount of money or personal property of intrinsic value. In exchange for giving up an item of value, the accused promises to return to court as ordered by the judge. Upon doing so, he or she will have the money or item returned. Should that individual fail to appear, the money or property would be forfeited to the court, and an additional arrest warrant will then be issued.
How Much Bail is Reasonable?
Defendants will be charged an amount that is reasonable under the circumstances. Judges are normally responsible for setting bail in each case. In determining how high bail should be, a few things they consider include:
- Type of charges the defendant is facing
- The criminal history of the accused
- Whether or not it is likely the individual will flee
- Financial resources of the individual and his or her family members
Since all of these factors play a part in determining bail, it can be difficult to predict the amount that will be set until a judge has made a ruling. Even when two defendants are charged together, each one could end up owing significantly different bail amounts.
Can Bail be Denied?
In some cases, a judge may deny bail altogether if the crime is very violent or heinous. When the possible punishment includes death by lethal injection or life in prison without parole, bail is typically denied. This can also be the case with many drug-related offenses if the possible sentence would be more than 10 years in prison. Even if the crime is relatively minor, judges may deny bail if there is a high likelihood of that person fleeing before the trial begins. It could also be denied if the judge feels the accused might try to hinder justice by tampering with evidence or intimidating witnesses.
For more information on paying bail, a criminal defendant or his family member should contact Gary Miller at 713-866-6233.