The criminal justice reform movement continues to support changes to the legal system in many states. In Texas, the Senate passed a bill that could have sweeping consequences on how defendants deal with the bail process and its conditions. In September 2021, Governor Greg Abbott signed the bill into law, establishing some long-sought-after changes in the Lone Star State.
Aspects of Senate Bill 6 and bail reform
At the core of Senate Bill 6’s reforms is a focus on “unnecessary conditions of release.” Although someone may post bail, the terms and conditions associated with the release could create undue and, arguably, unfair burdens. The bill promotes bail terms with the “least restrictive” conditions although it addresses matters related to “habitual and violent offenders.”
The reforms could help someone who may not be guilty of a crime but faces charges that require defending. While out on bail, the person could face financial troubles if the terms make earning a living challenging.
With all criminal trials, the defendant is innocent until proven guilty. Harsh bail conditions could impose penalties on defendants who are not found guilty. The charges may ultimately end up dismissed, such as when the accused’s rights are violated.
Going through the bail hearing process
Senate Bill 6’s elements that address violent felonies could make things challenging for some defendants. The law notes that those charged with “violent crimes” must put up a cash bail to secure their release. The bail amount could be high and the conditions very strict, but the accused may have an option.
It might be possible to request and receive a reduced bail amount and more favorable bail conditions. After setting bail, the judge could review requests for reductions and different terms at another hearing.