Last year the Texas Senate and House decided to take a look at how bail works in Texas. The new bail reform law they passed may have some positive effects. It requires that the court look at a person’s criminal history before setting bail, and it requires more training for judges.
But the new law also took away a judge’s discretion to decide on bail in some cases.
It prohibits a person charged with a violent crime from being released on their own recognizance. (This is when a person signs an agreement with the court and does not have to pay money in order to be released).
What About the Presumption of Innocence?
In the USA, if you have been charged with a crime you are INNOCENT until PROVEN guilty. That’s one of the most important foundations of our legal system. And yet a Texas Observer article from 2018 found that ¾ of county jail inmates in Texas had not been convicted of a crime! They were incarcerated because they couldn’t pay bail (or a hold had been put on them).
That’s a lot of people doing time who may be innocent. Unfortunately, the new bail reform law won’t improve that situation for some of those people.
What Is a Violent Crime in Texas?
The most commonly charged violent crime in Texas is aggravated assault. That is:
- An assault with a weapon (or anything that could be used as a weapon that could cause injury or death) or
- An assault that caused serious injury (disfigurement or impairment of function for a period of time or risk of death).
Robbery is the next most common violent crime. Robbery is intentionally, knowingly or recklessly threatening someone or causing bodily injury during the commission of a theft.
Rape and murder are also violent crimes.
The Importance of Negotiating Charges
It’s not uncommon for criminal charges to be adjusted downward. A prosecutor often starts with many criminal charges, or the highest charge they think they can get. Then, as the case is prepared for court or through the plea-bargaining process between the prosecutor and defense attorney, the charges are reduced or dropped altogether.
If you are facing serious criminal charges, don’t talk to the police or submit a plea until you’ve talked to a lawyer of your own. Someone who will protect your interests and provide a strong defense. Call the Fort Worth criminal defense lawyers at Lee and Wood, LP. at 817-678-6771 or contact us online.