1

In Texas speeding is a class C misdemeanor. If someone takes this to trial and the state requires a cash (bail) bond (twice the maximum find amount plus court costs) they must pay it to the county or the state.

They will keep this bond until the trial is over or the case is disposed.

If found not guilty, or the judge dismisses the case in the defendants favor, can the state or the county then require / deduct a 20 dollar processing fee before they return the bond to you? What law (in Texas) gives them the right to just take part of the money they required you let them use for several years?

I was under the impression that when the state loses they don't get to require payment from the accused.

Also, since the amount does not exceed 20 dollars, does that preclude the use of the 7th Amendment to force them to allow a jury trial to justify this?

2

Texas Code of Criminal Procedure 17.42, Personal Bond Office, is the Texas law that allows a "personal bond fee" to be collected. It defines the bond fee as the greater of $20 or 3% of the amount of the bail.

The U.S. Supreme Court in Schilb v. Kuebel held that administrative fees charged to both innocent and guilty were constitutional and did not impose a cost of prosecution on the innocent.

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    FWIW, I believe that the U.S. Supreme Court has granted cert. and held oral arguments in a case that would narrow or overrule Schilb v. Kuebel out of Colorado, although I don't have the name of the case easily at hand, and it appears likely from oral argument that the state will lose in that case. Similar issues challenging this conclusion have also been brought in Michigan although there I believe that the case was settled. I wouldn't count on that case remaining good law. That case also had an option to post a cash or secured bond and get 100% of your money back. – ohwilleke Mar 4 '17 at 9:41
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    @ohwilleke, I have the same recollection about another case before the Supreme Court but was unable to remember it's name and couldn't find it in my searches. The ruling in Schilb seems counterintuitive to me and I would hope that precedent isn't maintained. – Dave D Mar 4 '17 at 13:21
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    @ohwilleke, The case is Mickelson v. County of Ramsey (scotusblog.com/case-files/cases/mickelson-v-county-of-ramsey). This case is similar in that people who are arrested are charged a booking fee and if found not-guilty the arrestee has to go through a process to get a refund. This case could be used to answer the broader question of whether such fees are constitutional for people found not-guilty. That case references Markadonatos v. Village of Woodridge where the 7th circuit upheld fees in a similar case. – Dave D Mar 4 '17 at 13:57
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    I drive the junior lawyers in my office crazy telling them there's a case with such and such facts that shows a particular legal point, but they do usually find it in the end. – ohwilleke Mar 4 '17 at 16:40
3

Regarding the second part of your question:

The 7th Amendment does not apply in state court, so any right to a jury trial there would depend upon the constitution of the State of Texas (specifically Article I, Section 15 of the Texas Constitution). This is the case because the Bill of Rights applies by its terms only to the federal government. Under the Selective Incorporation doctrine, the 14th Amendment causes some of the Bill of Rights to apply in state court but not all of it. In particular, the 7th Amendment is one of the parts that does not apply in state court as determined in the U.S. Supreme Court cases of Minneapolis & St. Louis R. Co. v. Bombolis, 241 U.S. 211 (1916) and Pearson v. Yewdall, 95 U.S. 294 (1877).

The 11th Amendment would probably bar a federal lawsuit over this matter, since the proper defendant would probably be the State of Texas which is immune from suit in federal court except by another state or the United States. You would still have a right to assert your substantive federal constitutional rights in any state court litigation, however.

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  • Not sure why the US Constitution doesn't apply in state court. I've used the right to confront my accuser before in state trials to subpoena people. I've also pointed to the right to speedy trial (not that Texas cares much) and other things in the constitution and judges seem to be ok with it. – mark b Mar 6 '17 at 16:44
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    I edited my answer to explain this point. – ohwilleke Mar 6 '17 at 19:00

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