Bond or bail must be set, in some amount, for anyone charged with a non-capital crime in Tennessee. Charged individuals retain a legal presumption of innocence until there is a judicial determination of guilt. The Tennessee Supreme Court has recently decided that it is a right subject to forfeiture upon a violation of the conditions of bond. This reverses a contrary holding by the Court of Criminal Appeals in December 2014. The Supreme Court ruling, in State of Tennessee v. Latickia Tashay Burgins, E2014-02110-SC-R8-CO, determined that a trial court may hold a defendant without bond after a finding that the defendant has violated bond conditions. Of course, that finding does require an evidentiary hearing to ensure due process (and evidentiary rules for the proceeding are also defined in the Burgins opinion).
In the Burgins case, the trial court had revoked the defendant’s bond and ordered her held awaiting trial, after she was charged with committing serious crimes while released on bond for the original charge. On appeal of her bond status, the Court of Criminal Appeals held that although the trial court may revoke her original bond for a violation of its conditions, she was still entitled to a bond pending her trial.
The Tennessee Supreme Court reversed that ruling, concluding that though the defendant initially had the right to have a bond pending her trial, she may have forfeited that right by her conduct while released on bond. The Court remanded back to the trial court for a due process hearing to determine whether the defendant violated the bond conditions and, if so, whether the interests of guaranteeing her appearance in court when necessary and in public safety required that she be held without bond.
For more information on the right to bond in a criminal case, contact Hindman & Associates.