The majority of individuals know, if you are arrested for a crime, you are entitled to have a bond set in most instances. This bond will allow you to be released from jail pending your trial or the disposition of your case. This is one of our constitutional rights as citizens of the State of Tennessee. BUT what if you are arrested for a crime, released on bail, and before your case is disposed of you are charged with a new crime? Are you allowed to obtain a new bond for the new charge?
This matter comes up on a surprising regular basis. There is no question that your current bond can be revoked for picking up a new charge. What we are talking about here is a court denying a criminal defendant a new bond for the additional charge and then holding them there without bail. The state legislature ATTEMPTED to address this very issue when they passed a law effective in 2012, which is still on the books. The law says a court may deny you an additional bond when you commit a crime while out on bond for the other crime. The statute reads in pertinent partâ€¦
Tenn. Code Ann. § 40-11-141
"(b) If after the defendant is released upon personal recognizance, an unsecured personal appearance bond, or any other bond approved by the court, the defendant violates a condition of release, is charged with an offense committed during the defendant's release, or engages in conduct which results in the obstruction of the orderly and expeditious progress of the trial or other proceedings, then the court may revoke and terminate the defendant's bond and order the defendant held without bail pending trial or without release during trial."
Is this statute passed by the legislature constitutional? According to a recent Tennessee Criminal Court of Appeals case, this law does not pass constitutional muster and is currently considered unconstitutional. The case of State of Tennessee v. Burgins (No. E2014-02110-CCA-R8-CO, Dec. 3, 2014) points out, that Article I, Section 15 of the Tennessee Constitution clearly states "that all prisoners be bailable by sufficient sureties, unless for capital offenses" and only for capital offenses "when the proof is evident, or the presumption is great." (A capital offense being one in which the punishment is the death penalty.) This is the plain meaning of our constitution and according to the referenced case, the portion of the law allowing a court to deny a defendant's bond is unconstitutional except in capital cases and should not be followed by the courts. Therefore, in most cases, you are still entitled to a bond to be set, even if charged with a new crime while out on bail for a previous crime.