Article I, Section 11 of the Texas Constitution ("Bail")

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Adopted February 15, 1876:

All prisoners shall be bailable by sufficient sureties, unless for capital offences [sic], when the proof is evident; but this provision shall not be so construed as to prevent bail after indictment found upon examination of the evidence, in such manner as may be prescribed by law.

Editor Comments

Sections 11-a, 11-b, 11-c and 13 of Article I also directly address bail for those accused of criminal offenses.

All five sections reflect the tension between public safety and the constitutional presumption of innocence.

Attorney Steve Smith

Recent Decisions


Historic Decisions

  • Ex parte Varnado, 215 S.W.2d 165, 166 (Tex.Crim.App. 1948) ("[T]he omission of the words 'or the presumption great' materially changed the rights of a prisoner in the question of bail. . . . Since the opinion in Ex parte Smith, supra, the rule seems never to have been departed from, that if the evidence is clear and strong, leading a well-guarded and dispassionate judgment to the conclusion that the offense has been committed; that the accused is the guilty agent, and that he would probably be punished capitally if the law is properly administered, bail should be refused, otherwise bail should be granted.")
  • Ex parte Ezell, 40 Tex. 451, 459 (1874) ("In all of the first constitutions of the several American states many provisions for the protection of personal rights and liberties were inserted, most of which related to freedom from illegal restraint and the insurance of a speedy and impartial trial for alleged offenses. They were for the most part extracted from the . . . . If we look back through the long struggle against the tyranny and oppressions by which these great rights were secured, it will be found that the grievances complained of related to the treatment of prisoners before trial and conviction, and not after.")

Library Resources

Online Resources