Bond Revocation Hearing – Texas
When the court releases you on bail, you’re out of jail… but you are NOT free. There are strings attached. In other words, your “freedom” is conditional and it can be taken away if you violate your bail conditions, fail to show up in court, or are re-arrested, bail can be revoked. “Revocation” means you will be taken into custody and most likely lose your bail money.
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How are bond conditions set?
Under Article 17.40 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, a judge can “impose any reasonable condition of bond related to the safety of a victim of the alleged offense or the safety of the community.” This gives the court a lot of leeway, but in actuality, most judges will take into consideration:
- Seriousness of the offense
- Defendant’s criminal history
- Defendant’s physical and mental condition
- Employment history and ties to the community
- Whether or not he or she is a flight risk
What are common pre-trial bond violations?
For many individuals, pre-trial bond conditions can be very restrictive. However, it’s imperative that defendants follow them. One misstep can put you at risk of being jailed again. Below are some common bond violations in Texas:
- Failing to abide by a curfew
- Drinking alcohol
- Using drugs
- Possessing weapons
- GPS violations
- Failing to maintain employment
- Hanging out with people of ill repute
- Failing to check in with probation department
- Failing to show up in court
- Traveling out of the county or state without permission.
When is a bond held insufficient?
Article 17.09 of the Code of Criminal Procedure gives the trial court judge broad authority to hold a bond insufficient. It authorizes a trial court to manage a defendant’s bond and terms of release, including imposing a higher bond for any number of reasons after re-evaluating the circumstances or adequacy of the defendant’s bond. Practically speaking, merely holding a bond insufficient (as opposed to revoking the bond) gives the defense lawyer an opportunity to ask the judge for re-instatement before the bondsman is released as the surety. Sometimes, a proactive defense attorney is able to get a bond reinstated at the original amount, although it is common for any reinstated bond to be double the former bond amount.
What is a bond forfeiture?
A bond can be forfeited by order of the court revoking the bond. This may be based on the bondsman filing a motion to be released as the surety, a motion filed by the State, or on the court’s own motion.
If a defendant does not live up to their end of their agreement with their bondsman, perhaps by not staying in contact, the bondsman could “go off” their bond and withdraw their money. That is, the bondsman can ask the court to be released from responsibility of the defendant’s bond. They do this by filing an affidavit for release of surety (AFRS) with the court, which means a warrant will also be issued for the defendant when the court holds the bond insufficient. If this occurs, once the defendant is re-arrested, he or she will have to get a new bond reinstated and, if possible, find a new bondsman to post the bond.
A bond revocation can also be initiated by the prosecutor handling the defendant’s case. If the prosecutor learns that the defendant is possibly in violation of their bond conditions, they can file a motion to revoke the bond. At that point, the court will set a bond revocation hearing, where both sides will have an opportunity to present evidence.
The court may also receive information from a source, such as the court probation officer or pre-trial services, that leads the court to hold the bond insufficient on its own motion. Similarly, failing to show up in court will result in a bond revocation and forfeiture. Once a bond has been forfeited, a bond reinstatement may still be possible, but only if the bondsman is willing to stay on the bond and the judge is willing to reinstate the bond.
What happens at bond revocation hearing?
During a bond revocation hearing, both sides will have an opportunity to present evidence and make arguments before the judge. No jury is present. The prosecution will present evidence in an effort to show that the defendant violated bond conditions, while the defense will present evidence to show that the defendant has been compliant and the bond shouldn’t be revoked. If the judge finds by a preponderance of the evidence that the violation occurred, the judge can revoke the bond and order the defendant into custody until their case is disposed. This action also discharges the sureties (or bondsman) from future liability.
It’s important to point out that if the judge doesn’t revoke the bond, they could add additional conditions of release.