Walter Roche wrote a nice article in the Tennessean yesterday on the new bail bond law. The first version of the bill limited the bail bond company’s exposure to one year on a misdemeanor and two years on a felony. If the case was not concluded , the accused had to make a new bond. Now, most folks think one year is enough time to settle a case. However , blood tests for drugged driving cases take up to forty weeks and sometimes longer to get a result. The bill that was passed let a bail bond company off the hook once a defendant pleaded guilty .The effect is that a person has to make a new bond or go to jail until the sentencing hearing. Folks that made a bond before the law went into effect probably were not told what would happen.

I am proud that the Davidson County Criminal Court Judges stepped up to the plate to create some fairness in the system.The court order requires the bail bondsmen to notify their clients if they intend to go off a person’s bond at plea. I should also state that most bail bond companies in Nashville are remaining on the bail bond after plea. I do understand the bail bondsmen position.Maybe a little communication is in order . My proposal is just to notify the bail bondsmen or bonds women that a plea was entered and a sentencing date is set. For those not in the criminal justice system , a plea of guilty to certain crimes carries a automatic revocation of bond like rape. Most folks at a sentencing hearing are eligible for some type of alternative sentencing.

I just finished up my term as President of the Tennessee Association Criminal Defense Lawyers. TACDL will be working in the Tennessee State Legislature to fix the problem. It seems everyone in the criminal justice system from the judges to the criminal defense lawyers and the prosecutors are against the bill. I read one comment at the Tennessean story that the bail bond bill was the creature of the lobbyists. No truer words have ever been spoken.