“The appellate court erred by denying relief from the trial court’s abuse of discretion in not setting a personal bond or reducing Lanclos’s bond to an amount affordable to him, which the Code of Criminal Procedure clearly requires as relief.”
Lanclos was arrested for three counts of assault on a public servant. The trial court set bonds totaling $2.25 million. Lanclos filed a pretrial writ to reduce bond. The application alleged he could afford bonds totaling $150,000 or less. At a hearing, he introduced his wife’s affidavit averring that the bond amount was unaffordable, that she had sold property to pay for Lanclos’s attorney, and that two bail-bondsmen had refused to post such a high bond. While the writ was under advisement, 90 days passed and Lanclos still had not been indicted. He filed another writ, this time under Code of Criminal Procedure Article 17.151, which requires personal bond or reduction to an amount the defendant can afford if the State is not ready for trial within 90 days of arrest for a felony. The State did not appear at the Article 17.151 hearing. No further evidence was presented. The trial court granted partial relief by reducing the total bond amount to $1.5 million.
Lanclos appealed. The court of appeals held that, without evidence of Lanclos’s assets and financial resources and how much he could afford, the trial court did not abuse its discretion in failing to reduce the bonds any further.
Lanclos argues the court of appeals erred in placing the burden on him to show what constitutes an affordable bond. He relies on Rowe v. State, 853 S.W.2d 581, 582 n.1 (Tex. Crim. App. 1993), which states “If the [trial] court chooses to reduce the amount of bail required [to comply with Art. 17.151], it must reduce bail required to an amount that the record reflects an accused can make in order to effectuate release.” He contends Article 17.151 gives trial courts no discretion: they must provide a personal bond or reduce bail to an amount the accused can afford. If the trial court opts for the second route, it should have inquired into the amount that was affordable. He further argues it is absurd to think a $1.5 million bond (which typically requires the accused to pay a bondsman $150,000) would be readily affordable to any citizen.