BAIL: PAYING FOR YOUR FREEDOM DURING THE PENDENCY OF YOUR CASE AND REQUESTING A BAIL REDUCTION
This guide will answer some common questions related to bail.
Do I have a constitutional right to bail?To start, statutory law in Tennessee starts with the presumption that a defendant should be released on his or her recognizance, meaning that the defendant should not have to pay bail.
If you are not released on your own recognizance, every defendant that is accused of DUI is entitled as a matter of both constitutional and statutory right to be released on bail, no exception. In short, you are entitled to be released from jail because one of your most fundamental rights as a citizen of the United States is the presumption of innocence and thus, keeping you in jail undermines the idea that you are to be presumed innocent. Additionally, the United State Supreme Court also acknowledged that you can help you lawyer defend your case better if you are out of jail.
Why is my bail amount greater than my friend’s bail?That is a great question that frustrates many defendants. Bail has two primary purposes: (1) insuring the defendant appears in court; and (2) insuring the safety of the public. As such, if someone is viewed as a larger threat to the public, their bond will be higher than someone who is less of a threat. Similarly, someone who has previously been charged with a failure to appear in court will likely have a higher bail.
Additionally, the court may place you on special pre-trial conditions of bail in addition to your bail amount, or your lawyer can request the addition of pre-trial conditions in an endeavor to request for a lower bail amount. For example, f you have one or more prior convictions for DUI, the court has no choice but to consider special conditions of bail, which includes the use of an ignition interlock device or an electronic monitoring device with random drug or alcohol testing.
Multiple DUI offender: Will the court reduce the special conditions of my release?First, your lawyer should always attempt to get you released on your own recognizance, as that is the presumption as discussed previously.
If the court refuses to release you on your own recognizance, the court is constitutionally required to set bail at an amount that is no higher than an amount that will fulfill the two purposes set forth above. Of course, the dollar amount may be arbitrary.
If you believe that your bond amount is far too high then your lawyer should file a motion to reduce bond. A motion to reduce bond should cover the two purposes of bail set forth above. For example, to prove that you will appear in court, your lawyer should explain your ties to the community to prove that you are not a flight risk and unlikely to miss court.
Additionally, if the court makes one of the special conditions of bond one of your bond conditions, you can request the court to reduce those conditions. For example, some people’s jobs may cause them to be unable to wear an electronic alcohol monitoring devices. In such a scenario, your lawyer can make a motion to reduce your bond conditions.
I violated a bond condition, will my bond be revoked?Maybe. It is true that your right to bail may be revoked or taken away from you if you violate a condition of your release, commit another criminal offense while out on bond or obstruct the progress of your case. It is also true that a violation of a condition of your release may result in a motion by the state to increase your bond amount, just as you have the right to oppose the motion or move for a reduction.
However, your lawyer will discuss your specific violations of your release with the district attorney and potentially the judge in an endeavor to avoid your bond being revoked.