Can A Judge Raise My Bail After I’ve Already Posted Bond?
When a person is arrested and brought before a magistrate to answer the charge, the court will typically set bail, granting the defendant’s release pending trial upon the posting of a cash bond. Texas follows a “one bond” rule, i.e., once a defendant has posted bond, the judge cannot require the posting of a second bond in connection with the same criminal action. But the law does allow a judge to require a new bond upon finding the original bond was “defective, excessive, or insufficient in amount.”
Did Trial Judge Abuse Discretion in Raising Bail from $40,000 to $150,000?
The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals recently addressed whether this rule allowed a judge to set a new, higher cash bond after the defendant already posted a lower amount of bail. The case before the Court, Ex Parte Gomez, involves a defendant charged with felony burglary and assault. A magistrate initially set bail of $25,000 for the burglary and $15,000 for the assault, and the defendant obtained the necessary bonds.
The day that the defendant was released from jail pending trial, however, a trial court judge decided to revoke the magistrate’s bonds and order new bonds of $75,000 on each charge–effectively raising to the total amount of bail from $40,000 to $150,000. The defendant then applied for a writ of habeas corpus–basically, an order to reinstate the original bail amounts. The judge denied the writ, citing its discretion to increase the amount of bail under Texas law.
An intermediate appellate court reversed the trial court. It said the writ should be granted, because there was no dispute that the original amount of bail was “insufficient” and there was “no showing of changed circumstances” to justify increasing bail. Prosecutors appealed this decision to the Court of Criminal Appeals (CCA), which proceeded to reverse the intermediate court.
The CCA noted that a trial court is free to “review and change” a bail decision made by a magistrate. More to the point, the law expressly permits trial courts to revise a bond that it finds “insufficient.” The issue here was whether or not the trial court’s decision to find the original $40,000 bail insufficient constituted an abuse of discretion. The CCA returned the case to the intermediate appeals court to make that specific determination.
Contact Pearland Criminal Defense Attorney Keith B. French Today
Bail is never supposed to serve as a form of pretrial punishment. Its function is to guarantee a defendant makes all required court appearances in connection with a criminal case. Unfortunately, too many Texas judges continue to set arbitrarily high bail amounts, which in turn force those without financial means to languish in prison while awaiting trial.
That is why if you have been arrested and charged with an offense, it is crucial you work with an experienced Pearland criminal lawyer who can represent you at a bail hearing and at any subsequent court dates. Contact Keith B. French Law, PLLC, today if you need to speak with an attorney right away.