High-profile cases dictate high bonds in Bexar County

Bonds set on case-by-case system

SAN ANTONIO – Otis McKane, the accused killer of San Antonio Police Department Detective Benjamin Marconi, was ordered held without bond following a hearing Friday.

McKane's lawyers sought to have him freed on a personal recognizance bond or have his $2 million bond reduced.

For almost a decade, a judge relied on a fixed schedule to set bonds.

In 2018, the schedule was set aside and replaced by guidelines that left bond settings at a judge or magistrate’s discretion.

According to Bexar County Administrative Judge Ron Rangel, the guidelines instruct them to, in Rangel's words, "Use the factors that are in the code of criminal procedure and do what you think is fair on a case-by-case type deal."

Rangel explained that those factors, "Are things like the severity of the offense, whether there was some type of aggravating factor included in the offense, what is the safety to the community, what’s the safety to the individual and what can the defendant’s family afford.”

He said that under the system, defendants are allowed input in the decision.

"They have the right to come and present any additional evidence, through an attorney, to the court and the judge can look at that again and try to do what’s fair," Rangel said.

Bail is set by the judge. It is the actual amount of money they feel is adequate to ensure that the defendant shows up for pretrial matters as well as the trial itself.

"The actual bond is the agreement, the contract, with the surety and the defendant are what we refer to as bail under the Constitution refers to the actual dollar amount," Rangel explained.

He noted that the words bail and bond are not interchangeable.

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