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Texas Denial of Bail, Proposition 13 (2007)

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The Texas Denial of Bail Amendment, also known as Proposition 13, was on the November 6, 2007 ballot in Texas as a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment, where it was approved. The measure denied bail to those that violated certain court orders or conditions of release in a felony or family violence case.[1][2][3]

Election results

Texas Proposition 13 (2007)
ResultVotesPercentage
Approveda Yes 916,173 83.87%
No176,18916.13%

Election results via: Legislative Reference Library of Texas

Background

Prior the passage of Proposition 13, under Section 11 of Article 1 of the Texas Constitution, a judge could deny bail if the defendant is accused of:

  • a felony; with 2 prior felonies
  • a felony with another felony committed while on bail
  • a felony involving a deadly weapon; with a prior felony
  • a violent or sexual offense committed while on probation or parole.

All of these must show substantial evidence of the guilt of the accused. In 2005, voters approved Proposition 4, which authorized a denial of bail for a person accused of a felony whose previous bond on that same charge has been revoked for violating a condition of the bond.

Also, according the Penal Code, sec 25.07, it is a criminal offense to violate protective orders. These can include:

  • an act of family violence; or one related to stalking
  • going near a workplace, school, childcare facility, or household of a protected individual
  • possessing a firearm

Text of measure

The text of the measure can be read here.

Support

Supporters

  • Texans Against Sexual Assault
  • Texas Council on Family Affairs
  • The legislative sponsor of the bill, Rep. Joe Straus (R-121).

Arguments

  • It is enabling legislation that will keep criminals off the street and protect victims
  • It would expand current law to include all misdemeanor family violence offenses
  • It would not require the judge to refuse bond but allow it for extreme cases
  • Many times a defendants will demonstrate a desire to break court orders and hurt victims. This will prevent that.

Opposition

Opponents

Keith Hampton, a spokesman for the Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers Association, said that the group does not oppose the amendment, despite his reservations about the possible erosion of constitutional rights.[4]

Arguments

  • Erodes basic tenet that bails should only be denied in limited circumstances
  • Bail is not supposed to be used as a punishment
  • A judge could deny bail for almost any misdemeanor even they do not apply to the "safety of the victim" and could result in unfair detainment
  • Texas jails are already overcrowded
  • While abhorrent, family violence is a subcategory of violence against a person, which is dealt with adequately in other sections of Penal code.
  • Crimes should be based on the seriousness of the act, not the status of the victim.

Media editorial positions

Support

  • The Dallas Morning News said, "Judges should have authority to deny bail for suspects who defy protective orders in family violence cases. We recommend a yes vote."[5]

Opposition

  • The Austin Chronicle said, "A reasonable bail is a constitutional right, and the latest trend in unpopular crimes is not a reason to undermine it."[6]

Path to the ballot

See also: Laws governing direct democracy in Texas

As laid out in Article 17 of the Texas Constitution, in order for a proposed constitutional amendment to be placed on the ballot, the Texas State Legislature must propose the amendment in a joint resolution of both the Texas State Senate and the Texas House of Representatives. The joint resolution can originate in either the House or the Senate. The resolution must be adopted by a vote of at least two-thirds of the membership of each house of the legislature. That amounts to a minimum of 100 votes in the House of Representatives and 21 votes in the Senate.

See also

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External links

References


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