Laura Sullivan of NPR just finished a three part report on the bail bond crisis in America. As a criminal defense attorney , I could not agree more with her conclusions.Ms. Sullivan reports in her article that Nashville Davidson County’s jail is one of America’s most overstuffed jails . The average daily jail population is 3,528 and it is at 107 % of capacity.
How does the bail bond system work in Nashville,Tn ? Once a defendant is arrested , a night court commissioner sets a bail bond. It is based in part on the nature of the crime and the defendant’s prior criminal record as well as several other factors. Once the bond is set, the accused can pay the cash amount , obtain a property bond , get pretrial release, or hire a professional bail bondsman.
The Davidson County Sheriff’s Office has a pretrial release program.If you qualify , one can be released without paying any of the bond amount.However, there are some fees that apply.A professional bail bondsman charges 10 % of the total bond plus an administrative fee.For example , the night court commissioner sets a bond of $10,000. You must pay a fee of $1000.00 to be released from the Davidson County Jail plus a fee for the service.
If you or your family can’t make the bond, you sit in jail until your criminal charges are resolved. You can get the bond amount reduced by filing a motion to reduce the bail bond amount.Tennessee Code Annotated Section 40-11-118(a) provides the factors that the criminal court judges should consider:
1. The defendants’s length of residence in the community;
2.The defendants employment status and finanical condition;
3.Family ties and relationships
4.The defendants’s reputation , character, and mental condition;
5.Prior criminal record.
6.The nature of the offense and the probability of the conviction;
7. The defendant’s prior criminal record and the liklihood that because of such record the defendant will pose a risk of danger to the community;
8. The identidy of responsible members of the community that will vouch for the defendant’s reliability;
9.Any other factors indicationg the defendant’s ties to the community or bearing on the risk that the defendant’s willfull failure to appear.