Does Pretrial Release Make a Difference?

Does Pretrial Release Make a Difference?Immediate jail release is obviously important for personal reasons. But it is also critical for legal reasons.

If the jury finds out that the defendant is in jail, they usually assume that the defendant must have done something wrong. Additionally, even getting to that point could be a problem, if the defendant remains in jail. Even in relatively small jurisdictions like Parker County, the wait for a trial date could be several weeks or months. So, many incarcerated defendants accept unfavorable plea agreements just to “get it over with.” In other words, unless the defendant is free before trial, the presumption of innocence basically becomes a presumption of guilt.

So, a Weatherford criminal defense attorney always works to obtain immediate jail release. If that’s not possible, a bail reduction hearing often produces the needed result.

Initial Determinations

In all but the most serious cases, like murder, the sherriff pre-sets bail amounts, largely based on the defendant’s criminal history and the severity of the offense. These two factors are very easy to determine. But they are also a poor way to determine bond amount.

Statistically, people who have been through the system before and face serious charges are more likely to show up at trial. So, a Weatherford criminal defense attorney has an opening to reconsider bail. More on that below.

A few defendants are eligible for OR (Own Recognizance) pretrial release. Typically, if the defendant is a first-time offended who is charged with a nonviolent misdemeanor, the sheriff will release the defendant if s/he promises to appear at trial.

OR release is basically free and also usually has fewer conditions than a bail bond. However, most people bond out of jail. OR release is too limited.

A bail bond is like an insurance policy which guarantees appearance at trial. Most bonding companies charge a 10 or 15 percent premium. In addition to the premium, there are usually some conditions, such as reporting regularly to the bondsman and keeping the company informed of any address or job changes.

Cash bail is available as well. But generally, the cash amount is too high for most people to pay.

Bail Reduction

If the bail amount is too high, even for a bond, an attorney can schedule a bond reduction hearing. At this hearing, the judge considers a number of other factors, in addition to offense severity and criminal history. Some of these factors include:

  • Ability to pay,

  • Contacts with the community,

  • Ability to flee the jurisdiction, and

  • Threat to the community, if any.

Typically, the lawyers work out a deal. For example, the prosecutor may agree to reduce the bail amount if the defendant agrees to electronic monitoring.

Pretrial release often jump-starts a successful defense. For a free consultation with an experienced criminal defense attorney in Weatherford, contact Herreth Law. We routinely handle matters in Parker County and nearby jurisdictions.