Bail…

Under the provisions of Article 1, Section 11 of the Texas Constitution and Article 1.07 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, all persons accused of a crime (except capital crimes) are eligible to post bail.

Article 17.15 of the Code of Criminal Procedure states:

The amount of bail to be required in any case is to be regulated by the court, judge, magistrate or officer taking the bail; they are to be governed in the exercise of this discretion by the Constitution and by the following rules:
(1) The bail shall be sufficiently high to give reasonable assurance that the undertaking will be complied with.
(2) The power to require bail is not to be so used as to make it an instrument of oppression.
(3) The nature of the offense and the circumstances under which it was committed are to be considered.
(4) The future safety of the victim of the alleged offense and the community shall be considered.

The 8th Amendment to the United States Constitution states:

Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

Texas courts recognize that the primary object or purpose of bail is to secure the presence of the defendant in court upon the trial of the accusation against him. Ex parte Vasquez, 558 S.W.2d 477, 479 (Tex.Cr.App. 1977). While bail should be sufficiently high to give reasonable assurance that the undertaking will be complied with, the power to require bail is not to be used so as to make it an instrument of oppression. Ex parte Bufkin, 553 S.W.2d 116, 118 (Tex.Cr.App. 1977).

If a person is unable to post bail, it has been my experience that, in most cases, a bond reduction can be negotiated with the State. The trial court must approve the negotiated bond reduction. If the State will not agree to a bond reduction, the next step is to file a Writ of Habeas Corpus with the trial court.

Pre-Trial Diversion…

Pre-trial intervention programs in Texas are authorized by Section 76.011 of the Texas Government Code. Pre-trial diversion is an agreement between a person accused of committing a crime in Texas and the State of Texas.

Under the terms of the agreement, if the person complies with the conditions set out in the agreement, the State will dismiss the criminal charges. The agreement is very similar to probation, but not as rigorous. By statute, the maximum term for a pre-trial diversion is 2 years. Each county in Texas has great flexibility in setting up a pre-trial intervention program in that county.

As a general rule, pre-trial diversion is available to first time offenders who have been charged with a non-violent crime. When available, pre-trial diversion is a great way to resolve a criminal matter.