Bail for a Felony Criminal Offense Just Became More Restrictive

Being arrested for any criminal offense is never a positive experience.  In Tennessee, two main genres of criminal offenses exist.  The first, is a Misdemeanor offense.  These offenses are typically considered less serious offenses (with some serious exceptions, of course).  Some examples include Public Intoxication, Shoplifting, Reckless Driving, and DUI First Offense.  Misdemeanors fall into three classes: “A”; “B”; and “C”.  “A” being the most severe with a service in jail of 11 months and 29 days.  The author mentions this class of offenses briefly for a little context to the reader about the classes of criminal offenses in Tennessee. 

The genesis of this post, however, is to talk about more severe bond/bail conditions for Felony charges in Tennessee that has recently been signed into law.  Felony charges are the most serious offenses in Tennessee.  Five classes of Felonies exist in Tennessee: “A”; “B”; “C”; “D”; and “E”.  “A” is the most serious which can carry upwards to life in prison, while the “E” felony is the least severe normally carrying a 1-2 year prison sentence.  The Felony offenses in question for this blog post are the bonds for defendants charged with Felonies that range between “A” through “D”. 

When Did the Bail for a Felony Criminal Offense Law Change?

The law that has been signed is designated as Public Chapter No. 1055.  The law was signed by Governor Lee on May 28, 2024 and will become law on July 1, 2024.   This law makes bail/bond for the accused defendant much stricter and with less protections.  The law, in part, states that if the arresting county has pretrial services (pretrial is a mechanism that allows someone to be released from custody on bail through a sort of supervision program, instead of simply posting a monetary bond) and the defendant is not compliant with any term of this service, they shall have their bond forfeited and potentially have an arrest warrant issued by the Judge. 

It is important to note that typically, if there is a bond issue (i.e., allegation of bond violation) a notice is filed with the defendant, and the defendant’s lawyer, being served with this notice and a hearing is set at a later date so that the alleged bond violation can be confronted in court with due process.  This statute, as this author reads it, simply demands that upon any violation the pretrial service’s agency shall inform the Court, and upon this notice, the Court may forfeit the bond and issue an arrest warrant.  The statute does not seem to require any formal hearing or notice to either the defendant or lawyer.  Additionally, any such individual who is put into custody because of this bail violation may only be released by a criminal or circuit court Judge.

Being charged with a serious Felony charge is terrifying enough, let alone very restrictive and punitive bond conditions that could lead to individuals being arrested/having their bond revoked on just one report to the Judge.   This new law could potentially lead to many defendants being placed in custody without due process and without proper confrontation of their accusers. 

Should you or a loved one be arrested on a Misdemeanor or Felony charge, the lawyers at Oberman & Rice are available to speak with you at (865) 249-7200, at any time.  Our firm is open 24/7 and willing to help not only with bond/bail issues, but any other issue that you may face in the criminal justice system.  For additional information, please visit our website at