Prompt pretrial release is an essential component of a good criminal defense. Typically, defendants who are behind bars do not make good decisions, usually because the increase stress hormone production interferes with the thought process. In practical terms, defendants who are in jail often accept unfavorable plea bargain agreements just so they can get back to the free world.
So, the Eighth Amendment guarantees reasonable bail in criminal cases. A Weatherford criminal defense attorney basically has two chances to enforce that right.
Typically, the Parker County Sheriff sets initial bail amounts based on the severity of the offense and the defendant's criminal record. At a bail reduction hearing, the judge considers some additional factors, which are outlined below.
Briefly, cash bail is the amount of money the defendant must post to obtain release. A bail bond is a surety agreement which is basically like an insurance policy that guarantees appearance at trial. The premium is usually 10 or 15 percent of the cash bail amount.
Both forms of pretrial release includes some conditions. Among other things, defendants must often remain within the county and report regularly to a bail agent. An attorney may be able to eliminate or modify these conditions. Judges may impose additional offense-specific conditions, like an Ignition Interlock Device in a DWI case.
Limited pretrial release is available as well. Generally, if the defendant has no criminal record and is charged with a nonviolent misdemeanor, OR (Own Recognizance) release may be an option. These defendants simply promise to appear at trial.
If the defendant remains in jail for more than about seventy-two hours, most Parker County judges hold arraignment hearings. Sometimes, the arraignment is the first time the defendant learns the full nature of the pending charges. Police officers are under no legal obligation to inform defendants of the charges against them.
More importantly for purposes of this blog, the judge also revisits the bail issue. Frequently, the judge lowers the bail amount, based on factors like:
Amount of money the defendant can pay,
Defendant's threat to the community, if any,
Amount of evidence against the defendant (this factor is a good way to get prosecutors to tip their hands), and
Defendant's ties to the community.
Many times, the defense attorney and prosecutor strike a deal. For example, the prosecutor may agree to a bail reduction if the defendant agrees to additional conditions, like electronic monitoring.
Pretrial release sets the table for a successful defense. For a free consultation with an experienced criminal defense attorney in Weatherford, contact Herreth Law. Home and jail visits are available.