DOJ New Guidelines for Bail Enforcement

Published: Tuesday, August 23rd, 2016
Written by: Amanda Gentry


The United States Department of Justice has released new guidelines on how bail is to be enforced in regard to people without funds to pay. This includes enforcement of fines and fees. In many cities and jurisdictions, such as in Murfreesboro TN, the courts were running a type of debtor’s prison. This is likely unconstitutional. The full letter can be seen here fees_dearcolleague_3-14-16 but a quick summary:

  1. Courts cannot jail for nonpayments of fines or fees if you have no ability to pay. 
  2. Alternatives must be considered if you cannot afford fines or fees.
  3. You must be allowed a hearing even if you cannot pay fees. 
  4. Notice and legal council must be provided. 
  5. Courts cannot threaten arrest or license suspension to collect fines. 
  6. Courts must work to stop their subcontractors from doing any of the above.

If you feel like your rights are being violated in any way by actions of the court, it may necessitate looking for legal representation. It is possible the local courts do not know or follow their rules properly. You need to request that you have an attorney present that can help with the complex legal situation that you are likely facing. You do have the right to legal representation, but you may have to demand it to be treated fairly.

If you need fair trustworthy legal representation in the area around Nashville TN, including Murfreesboro, Hendersonville, Mt Juliet, Brentwood, Franklin or surrounding counties, call the law office of Amanda J Gentry at 615-604-6263 or send me an email using our contact form.