Criminal Defense Lawyer Asks - Should Being Poor Mean You Have To Stay In Jail?
When they can’t pay, they are stuck in jail. Their job, their children and their other responsibilities exist in a sort of limbo
No one should be punished for being poor says Texas criminal defense lawyers Broden & Mickelsen.
In many parts of the country, being too poor to make bail leaves criminal defendants with just one option: Sit in jail while their case is pending. It’s a scenario that happens over and over again. An individual gets arrested and charged with a crime – usually something relatively minor in the grand scheme of things. At their bail hearing, the judge sets bail, sometimes in the hundreds, sometimes in the thousands. When they can’t pay, they are stuck in jail until their case moves forward. In the meantime, their job, their children, and their other responsibilities exist in a sort of limbo.
According to the U.S. Justice Department, and reported by NBC News, it’s a practice that has gone on for far too long. Recently, the Justice Department claimed that incarcerating the indigent due to an inability to pay is unconstitutional.
If you have been charged with a crime and held in jail because you could not make bail, contact a Texas criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. You have important rights. If your rights have been violated, the criminal defense lawyers at Broden & Mickelsen can help you defend them.
A Texas-Sized Problem
They say everything is bigger in Texas. Unfortunately, it’s not always a good thing. In Harris County, reports have surfaced of individuals being incarcerated on minor charges, simply because they could not afford the bail set in their case.
According to several sources, many criminal defendants in Harris County have suffered harsh consequences due to a lack of funds. One 22-year-old woman nearly lost her job after she was kept in jail for two days for driving without a license. She could not afford the $2,500 bail set in her case. In another case, a young, pregnant mother with two older children, including a child with a disability, was told to come up with $5,000 bail money or remain in jail.
The jail in Harris County is the largest in Texas and the third-largest in the United States. One source claims that an overwhelming 77 percent of all inmates in the jail are there because they could not afford to pay bail. Out of 8,600 individuals processed into the jail in any given month, 6,800 are detained because they can’t pay.
Justice Department Says Enough Is Enough
The indigent bail problem extends far beyond Texas. The Justice Department set forth its opinion on the issue in a case pending in Georgia. In that case, Maurice Walker was incarcerated for six nights after he could not pay $160 bail for a misdemeanor offense of being a pedestrian under the influence of alcohol.
According to the Justice Department, Walker’s incarceration was a violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution and reminiscent of the debtors’ prisons commonly described in Charles Dickens novels written in the Nineteenth Century.
The Justice Department also said there are other methods to guarantee a person’s appearance in court, especially when the individual has been charged with a minor, non-violent offense.
Jailed Because You Could Not Pay Bail? Call a Texas Criminal Defense Lawyer
No one should be punished for being poor. It’s not a crime to struggle to make ends meet. At Dallas Criminal Defense Lawyer Broden & Mickelsen, we defend the rights of people who have suffered at the hands of a justice system that does not always treat everyone fairly. If you have been the victim of unjust bail practices, we can help. Contact us or call 214-720-9552 to discuss your case with a Texas criminal defense lawyer today.