What happens after police officers arrest someone? In most cases, if the state chooses to charge the individual with a crime, the court will set bail. If the individual can afford the set bail, the officers will release the accused. If not, the accused will remain in jail until their court hearing.
What exactly is bail? Bail is a legal term that refers to the process used while the state builds its case. The state agrees to release the individual in exchange for a sum of money, generally set by the court. The judge generally uses their discretion to set the bail amount. The court will return the money if the accused shows up to court for all hearings and trial. If not, the court keeps the money.
Unfortunately, the system is not always fair.
What are lawmakers doing to better ensure a fair bail system? In an effort to better ensure fairness, some cities and counties throughout the country have enacted bail systems that allow pretrial jail release for low-risk individuals on no-cost bonds. Texas lawmakers are considering a similar system.
If passed, the proposal would help to prevent poor, nonviolent individuals from being kept in jail because they cannot afford their bail bonds. In addition to allowing for the no-cost release of non-violent individuals, the proposal would also provide additional training for magistrates who set bail and a commission to put together a risk assessment tool for counties to determine if a defendant was likely to skip court or pose as a threat to the public.
Will the proposal become law in Texas? The bill as proposed was passed by the House and is headed to the Senate for further review. It is important to note this is not the only proposal pushing for bail reform under consideration. As such, some form of reform is likely. We will post updates on the details of reform, if it passes, as they become available.