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Tennessee Lawmakers Consider Three Bail Reform Bills

 Posted on March 11,2022 in Criminal Defense

Knoxville criminal defense attorneysUnder Tennessee law, the majority of people charged with criminal offenses have the constitutional right to be released on bond while their case works its way through the criminal justice system. There are a few exceptions to this law, such as a case where prosecutors are seeking the death penalty or if the person was a fugitive.

The problem under the current system, however, is that there are many defendants who are unable to come up with the bond amount and end up sitting in jail until their case is resolved one way or another. Tennessee lawmakers are considering changes to the current bond system and have introduced three different bills.

Disparities in the Bond System

As of January 31, 2022, there were 24,264 people being held in Tennessee jails. According to the state’s Department of Corrections, 59 percent of those inmates were being held pre-trial. Critics say the bond system goes against the state’s constitution, which they say promises bail for everyone except those who have been charged with capital offenses.

One of the main issues is that there is no consistency when it comes to the current bail system. Each county sets its own rules.

Proposed Legislation

The first bill would guarantee that anyone who has been arrested would have a bail hearing within 48 hours of being taken into custody. The law would also provide specific instructions on how each court should address these proceedings.

The second bill would regulate bail bond agencies. These agencies allow people who have been arrested but cannot afford the full amount ordered by the court to pay a percentage of the bail amount. The amount is usually 10 percent and is non-refundable. For example, a person who is required to post bail of $10,000 in order to be released while their case is pending would need to pay the bonds company $1,000. 

If the bill passes, there would be more succinct and stringent rules for these companies, including registering with the Department of Commerce and Insurance and meeting requirements to keep their registration. There would also be specific rules on what actions could result in disciplinary action.

The third bill would create an “alert” system, notifying all involved parties of each step of the process. Defendants and victims would receive a 24-hour notice/reminder alert of each court hearing, eliminating a defendant’s claim of missing a hearing because they were unaware it was scheduled.

Currently, all three bills are being considered by both the Tennessee House and Senate.

Call a Knox County Defense Lawyer

If you have been arrested and charged with a crime, you should be entitled to bail, in most cases. Contact Jeffrey Coller, Knoxville Criminal Defense Attorney at 865-281-1000 immediately in order to ensure you have that bail hearing, as well as protection for all your constitutional rights. Call our office today to schedule a free consultation with a dedicated Knoxville, TN criminal attorney.



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