Texas’ New Bail Reform Law
On Monday, September 13th Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed a new law in an attempt to keep people with a prior criminal record in jail if they are arrested on new charges. This law would apply even though they have not yet been tried and should be considered innocent until proven guilty.
This law is scheduled to go into effect on December 2, 2021.
The Texas legislature passed the Damon Allen Act (Senate Bill 6) in honor of a Texas State Trooper who was shot and killed in 2017 on Thanksgiving Day. This occurred during a traffic stop on a man with a violent history against law enforcement who was out on bond after then being charged.
Texas Law Ends Personal Recognizance Bonds for Violent Offenders
The law just signed by Governor Abbott ends personal recognizance bonds for people with a violent criminal history. Once this law goes into effect such individuals will need to pay cash bail in an amount determined by the judge. Or they can pay a bail bondsman, but they will not be released on their own recognizance on just their word that they will return to court.
KTRK ABC13.com reported that Governor Abbott claimed that the magistrate did not have the individual who murdered Allen’s criminal history when he considered their bail. If he’d had this information, he may have kept the man locked up.
Under the Damon Allen Act, judges will be required to consider the suspect’s criminal history before deciding on bail. But the accused may still get released if they can afford to pay cash for their bail or pay a bail bondsman a percentage, depending on how much bail the judge sets.
Having the money to post cash bail has allowed many to be released from jails in Texas. But, in some Texas Counties, they have been releasing more individuals accused of minor crimes with no money being paid at all.
Champions of the New Law Cite New Crimes by the Accused After Posting Bail
Supporters of the new law claim that it is necessary to keep violent offenders locked up until their trial. They say an abundance of violent defendants have been released on bond only to go out and commit more crimes.
Before he signed the bill, Governor Abbott said, “The Damon Allen Act protects society by making it more difficult for violent criminals to be released on bail.”
Violent offenders will no longer be released on their own personal recognizance, but they can still get out of jail by paying cash in the amount set by the court, or by working with a bail bondsman to pay a percentage of that amount.
The Damon Allen law also ends cashless release for anyone arrested for a felony if they happened to be already out on bond for a previous violent crime.
According to the Texas Tribune, those opposed to the law claim the banning of only cashless bonds, while allowing money bail, will simply exacerbate the issue of detaining individuals based on their lack of money, resulting in more overcrowded jails. They say that requiring people to pay cash to get released from jail simply penalizes low-income individuals while adding to the profits of the bail bonds industry.
Retain a Reputable Denton Criminal Defense Attorney
If you or a loved one is facing criminal charges, you would be well served by having the award-winning Denton County Peugh Law Firm represent you in court.
Please contact us as soon as possible for a confidential consultation on your case. We will evaluate your chances of getting released on your own recognizance rather than being forced to pay bail, now or when the new law takes effect in December. Contact us for a free consultation today.