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Relating to rules for fixing the amount of bail, to the release of certain defendants on a bail bond or personal bond, to related duties of certain officers taking bail bonds and of a magistrate in a criminal case, to charitable bail organizations, and to the reporting of information pertaining to bail bonds.
Estimated Two-year Net Impact to General Revenue Related Funds for HB 20, Committee Report 2nd House, Substituted: an impact of $0 through the biennium ending August 31, 2023.
The bill would have a negative impact of ($850,000) to General RevenueDedicated Statewide Electronic Filing System Account 5157 through the biennium ending August 31, 2023.
The bill would make no appropriation but could provide the legal basis for an appropriation of funds to implement the provisions of the bill.
HB 20 would make a number of changes to the bail system. If a defendant is charged with an offense while released on bail for a prior offense, only the court before whom the case for the previous offense is pending may release the defendant on bail. Defendants previously convicted of a violent offense or charged with any offense while released on bail for a violent offense would not be able to be released on a personal bond. If enacted, judges and magistrates would have to consider the criminal history and citizenship status of the defendant when deciding bail.
HB 20 would entitle defendants unable to pay their set bail to a hearing for the adjustment of the amount. The bill would require court clerks to report detailed information on their court’s bail practices to the Office of Court Administration. If enacted, judges and magistrates would have to complete annual continuing education on setting bail. The Department of Public Safety would also be required to create a training program for judges and magistrates.
HB 20 would place certain restrictions on charitable bail organizations. This section would not apply to charitable bail organizations that only pay a bail bond for not more than three defendants in any 180 day period. Organizations to which this section does apply would be required to file affidavits with applicable county clerks listing who is authorized to pay bonds on behalf of their organization. Charitable bail organizations would only be allowed to pay a bail bond for an indigent defendant who is not charged with a violent offense and has not been previously convicted of a violent offense. Organizations would be subject to certain reporting requirements.
CSHB 20 represents a modest improvement over the status quo with respect to the Texas bail system, which is consistent with our limited government principle. CSHB 20 could be strengthened and improved by restoring the risk assessment provision which was included in the House Committee Report version of the bill.