NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The state constitution guarantees the right to bail, but it’s not absolute, the Tennessee Supreme Court ruled Tuesday.
The state’s highest court said the right to pretrial bail can be revoked if someone is alleged to have committed a crime after getting bailed out of jail.
The opinion stemmed from the Knoxville case of Latickia Burgins, who had bailed out of jail after being arrested on a misdemeanor charge and was later charged in connection with a violent carjacking.
“A defendant may forfeit her right to bail by subsequent criminal conduct,” Chief Justice Sharon Lee wrote in the opinion. “Before pretrial bail can be revoked, the defendant is entitled to an evidentiary hearing.”
The opinion set out the procedures that must be used in pretrial bail hearing, saying prosecutors or a judge can initiate proceeding to revoke bail.
The state still have the burden of proving the grounds to revoke the bail. A judge may revoke bail if they find that it is more likely than not that a defendant committed the additional crimes after bailing out of jail.
The court said defendants must be given written notice of the date, time and place of the hearing, as well as the reason why bail may be forfeited. They are also entitled to know the evidence against them, have the opportunity to be heard, present their own witnesses, confront and cross-examine witnesses and argue in their own defense.
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