X

Thank you for sharing!

Your article was successfully shared with the contacts you provided.
Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:Authorities arrested Lee Scott Clemons and charged him with indecency with a child and aggravated sexual assault of a child, offenses allegedly committed against his two daughters and a family friend. The trial court set his bail at $100,000 in each of the indecency cases, at $250,000 in Cause No. 11-06-00250-CR, and at $150,000 in Cause No. 11-06-00251-CR, for a total of $600,000. Clemons filed petitions for writs of habeas corpus, alleging that his bail was too high. At the hearing, Clemons and other witnesses testified regarding his lack of funds or assets. The evidence showed that Clemons had $1,900 and a collection of lighters worth about $500. He drove a company-owned vehicle, rented a house, was in debt and owned no land. Clemons testified that he had not spoken to friends or family to determine whether any of them would be willing or able to contribute money toward a bond. One of the owners of the company that employed Clemons testified that she had talked to a bondsman who charged 10 percent but had not discussed any certain dollar amount or limit as far as helping Clemons pay a bond fee. The hearing also established that Clemons had ties to the community and stable employment before his arrest. Clemons grew up in Aspermont. His grandparents still lived there. Clemons and his wife and children lived in Brownwood at the time of the hearing. His mother also lived in Brownwood. Clemons’ employers testified that he was a good, reliable, hard and honest worker and that he had worked at their construction business for six years before his arrest. They also testified that they did not believe Clemons was a flight risk and pointed out that he had already had opportunities to flee but had not done so. Clemons’ wife, however, testified that Clemons was a flight risk and a danger to himself. Clemons admitted making comments about taking his own life but said that he was not serious when he made those comments. Clemons also admitted that he had made comments to his wife about fleeing the country. Clemons told his wife that they could be a family again if they went to Mexico. After the hearing, the trial court reduced the amounts of bail to $75,000, $75,000, $150,000, and $100,000 respectively for a total of $400,000. Clemons appealed, arguing that bail was still too high and thus unconstitutional. HOLDING:Affirmed. Texas Code of Criminal Procedure Art. 17.15 provides that: the amount of bail “shall be sufficiently high to give reasonable assurance that the undertaking will be complied with”; bail “is not to be so used as to make it an instrument of oppression”; the trial court must consider “[t]he nature of the offense and the circumstances under which it was committed” in setting bail; the trial court must consider a defendant’s ability to make bail; and the trial court must consider “[t]he future safety of a victim of the alleged offense and the community.” The ability to make bond is one of many factors that a trial court may consider in setting the amount of bail, the court stated. But this factor, the court stated, does not control the amount of bail and will not automatically render an amount excessive. In addition to the rules listed in Art. 17.15, the court stated, trial courts may consider several additional factors in setting the amount of bail, including possible punishment, the accused’s work record, his ties to the community, the length of his residency, his prior criminal record, his conformity with any prior bail bond conditions, his ability or inability to make a bail bond, and the existence of any outstanding bail bonds. The court reviewed the trial court’s order for abuse of discretion. Clemons, the court found, showed that he could not afford bail as set in his cases, but he did not provide any evidence showing that he had made any efforts to secure a bond himself. His testimony, the court found, showed that he had not attempted to find out if any friends or family members were willing or able to help him secure a bond. Therefore, the court held that the trial court did not act arbitrarily or unreasonably in setting bail in light of Clemons’ failure to show any effort on his part to secure a bond, the serious nature of the alleged crimes, the potential for a lengthy sentence, the future safety of the victims and Clemons’ apparent lack of regard for his community ties. OPINION:Per curiam; Wright, C.J., and McCall and Strange, J.J.

Want to continue reading?
Become a Free ALM Digital Reader.

Benefits of a Digital Membership:

  • Free access to 3 articles* every 30 days
  • Access to the entire ALM network of websites
  • Unlimited access to the ALM suite of newsletters
  • Build custom alerts on any search topic of your choosing
  • Search by a wide range of topics

*May exclude premium content
Already have an account?

 
 

ALM Legal Publication Newsletters

Sign Up Today and Never Miss Another Story.

As part of your digital membership, you can sign up for an unlimited number of a wide range of complimentary newsletters. Visit your My Account page to make your selections. Get the timely legal news and critical analysis you cannot afford to miss. Tailored just for you. In your inbox. Every day.

Copyright © 2020 ALM Media Properties, LLC. All Rights Reserved.