Everyone in Tennessee who is arrested on a criminal charge will have the jurisdictional judge assess the case for their potential release on bond. This is not necessarily an automatic allowance because judges can hold a defendant without bail if there is a potentially serious threat to public safety after releasing the defendant. Each case is evaluated based on the evidence being used as a basis for the arrest. The judge will then review all case factors at the time and determine a sufficient bond amount or allow the defendant to be released on their own recognizance (OR).
Release on own recognizance
An OR release is often allowed when the defendant has no prior criminal history of failure to appear in court. A basic criminal law principle is that bond generally follows similar to appropriate sentencing meeting the level of criminal activity. The nature of the crime can matter as well as the potential for the defendant to appear in court voluntarily.
Conditional bond release
Being released from custody following an arrest is not always as simple as posting the bond money and leaving the facility. Some criminal cases require special conditions. The judge may require that the defendant stay away from any particular location upon release, including issuing a restraining order in domestic violence or assault cases. Additionally, those charged with DUI may be required to install an ignition interlock device in their personal vehicle while awaiting a court appearance. Judges may also assign sobriety conditions as well.
It is also important to remember that Tennessee allows bonding agencies to provide for the release of defendants who can qualify. Bonding agencies typically charge a 10% non-refundable service fee for securing a custody release based on the total bond amount. However, agencies cannot negotiate with the court for a reduced bond.