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SB 6 (Damon Allen Act) and Setting Bail

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  • During the Second Special Session in the 2021 Legislative Session, the Texas Legislature passed Senate Bill 6 (known as the Damon Allen Act, after a trooper killed in the line of duty in 2017), which was then signed into law by Gov. Abbott on September 13, 2021. 

    This bill significantly changes the process for setting bail by giving magistrates better information about a defendant, including their criminal history and any required bond conditions, prohibiting release of a defendant on a personal bond in certain situations, and increasing educational requirements for magistrates. 

    Please see the sections below for the impact of SB 6 and other 2021 legislative changes on the process of magistration and setting bail.

  • SB 6 requires OCA to create a system by April 1, 2022, that will create reports for magistrates to consider when making bail decisions on defendants. These reports are called public safety reports (PSR) and the overall system is the public safety report system (PSRS).

    Public Safety Report System (PSRS)
    The two main goals of the system are:

    1. Provide a summary of criminal history information to magistrates for the purpose of more effectively setting bail and bond conditions.These summaries are Public Safety Reports (PSR).
    2. Provide a mechanism of reporting bail decisions to OCA.

    The system is not designed to be a "one stop shop" for all magistrate duties or to keep records of all magistration information.

    Public Safety Reports (PSR)
    A public safety report (PSR) must be considered any time a defendant is arrested for any jailable offense and their release on bail is being considered. The PSR must:

    (1) state the requirements for setting bail under Article 17.15 and list each factor provided by Article 17.15(a) (see pages 18-19 of the Magistration Deskbook for these factors);

    (2) provide the defendant's name and date of birth or, if impracticable, other identifying information, the cause number of the case, if available, and the offense for which the defendant was arrested;

    (3) provide information on the eligibility of the defendant for a personal bond (see pages 22-25 of the Magistration Deskbook for more info on eligibility for personal bond);

    (4) provide information regarding the applicability of any required or discretionary bond conditions (see pages 28-30 of the Magistration Deskbook and the Magistration Bench Cards for more info on bond conditions);

    (5) provide, in summary form, the criminal history of the defendant, including information regarding any: (A) previous misdemeanor or felony convictions; (B) pending charges; (C) previous sentences imposing a term of confinement; (D) previous convictions or pending charges for: (i) offenses that are offenses involving violence as defined by Article 17.03; or (ii) offenses involving violence directed against a peace officer; and (E) previous failures of the defendant to appear in court following release on bail; and

    (6) be designed to collect and maintain the information provided on a bail form submitted under Section 72.038, Government Code.

    Bail Forms
    Additionally, Gov't Code Sec. 72.038 mandates that a bail form containing certain information must be submitted to OCA through the PSRS every time that bail is set under Chapter 17 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. This form is not the order setting bond or conditions, but simply a report to OCA of what occurred in the magistration. The form must:

    • State the cause number, if available, the defendant’s name and date of birth, and the offense for which the defendant was arrested;

    • State the name and office or position of the person setting bail;

    • Require the person setting bail to identify the bail type, the amount of the bail, and any conditions of bail; certify that the person considered each factor provided by Art. 17.15(a); certify that the person considered the information provided by the public safety report system; and

    • Be electronically signed by the person setting bail.

  • Important Notethe below education requirements do apply to all justices of the peace, regardless of whether they perform magistration or set bail.

    For information on how to satisfy these requirements, visit our Magistration Education Page

    For all Justices of the Peace serving on April 1, 2022:

    All justices of the peace must be in compliance with educational requirements related to magistrate duties. These include an eight-hour course on magistrate duties by December 1, 2022 for magistrates in office on April 1, 2022, including a DPS course on accessing criminal history records (see the FAQ below for more details).

    Additionally, two hours of education on magistrate’s duties must be completed each subsequent state fiscal biennium (the two-year period beginning on September 1 in odd-numbered years, such as September 1, 2023-August 31, 2025). Code of Criminal Procedure Arts. 17.023, 17.024.

    For all new Justices of the Peace:

    All justices of the peace must be in compliance with educational requirements related to magistrate duties. These include an eight-hour course on magistrate duties within 90 days of taking office, including a DPS course on accessing criminal history records (see the FAQ below for more details). All judges taking office after April 1, 2022 must receive this education within 90 days of taking office. 

    For newly-elected judges, TJCTC's New Judge seminars already contain education that meets this requirement.

    For newly-appointed judges taking office more than 90 days before TJCTC's New Judge seminar, we strongly recommend you follow option 1 under Virtual Options in the FAQ "How Can I Satisfy My Educational Requirements?" below. 

    Additionally, a two-hour course on magistrate’s duties must be completed each subsequent state fiscal biennium (the two-year period beginning on September 1 in odd-numbered years, such as September 1, 2023-August 31, 2025). Code of Criminal Procedure Arts. 17.023, 17.024.

     

  • FAQ - The Public Safety Report System

    • Download OCA's checklist.

      Step 1 - Ensure your court has an ORI number

      Not sure what an ORI number is or if your court has one? 

      In order to access the system, magistrates must have an Originating Agency Identification (ORI) number which is provided by the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS). The ORI number is a federal designation that provides agencies access to the National Law Enforcement Telecommunications System (NLETS), and, in Texas, the Texas Law Enforcement Telecommunications System (TLETS).

      OCA has created an online resource, Originating Agency Numbers (ORI) and TLETS Access, with information regarding SB6 and resources on how to obtain an ORI number from DPS should your court require one. Included on the site is a list of courts with an existing ORI number, as provided by DPS.​

      If you believe your court needs an ORI number, please review the list above to make sure that your court or jurisdiction doesn’t already have one, and reach out to the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) following the instructions below:

      Courts should submit the following on agency letterhead:
      Court Name
      Name of contact person
      Physical address including the county
      Court main phone number
      Type of cases heard by this Court (Please specify whether cases are Criminal or Civil)
      Email

      The preferred method of submission is email: tcic.operations@dps.texas.gov

      If the above option is not available, paperwork may be mailed to:

      Texas Department of Public Safety Michelle Farris, Chief Crime Records Division MSC: 0233 PO Box 4143 Austin, TX 78765-4143

      Step 2 - Designate a Local Administrative User

      The Local Administrative User (LAU) will be responsible for entering other system end users into the PSRS. The LAU will need to complete an electronic PSRS User Registration Form so their user account can be set up ahead of time. Once the LAU's account is set up in the system, a notification will be sent with guidance on how to enter end users from their jurisdiction in the system.

      The LAU may be different from court to court. Some courts will have the judge be the LAU, whereas others will have the court coordinator or other court personnel fill that role. Some counties may have courts share a LAU, if desired.

      Step 3 - The LAU Designates All Users of the PSRS

      This includes anyone who will be entering information into the PSRS, such as court personnel doing data entry, not just magistrates.

      End users will then need to complete a two-factor authentication process to verify their identity. Download instructions here. Note that Automon added the ability to use an email address instead of a text message on April 1, sinced some users cannot have their phones in jails where they need to use the PSRS. Download those instructions here.

      Step 4 - Designate a Terminal Agency Coordinator (TAC) or Administrator

      Both the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) and the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) require that all agencies with a terminal with access to TLETS appoint a Terminal Agency Coordinator for each ORI number. If your jurisdiction/ORI does not have a terminal with TLETS access you can appoint an Administrator instead. OCA recommends that the individual identified to be the PSRS Local Administrative User also be the current TAC or Administrator required by DPS. The TAC or Administrator is responsible for ensuring that all users designated under an ORI are complying with guidelines related to access to criminal history information and are compliant with all training requirements.

      Non-Terminal Agency Agreement and TLETS Access Guidelines
      All courts accessing criminal history information in TLETS through the PSRS that is not done through a dedicated terminal will need to complete a Non-Terminal Agency Agreement with OCA. The agreement is by ORI number and not by individual users. The agreement must be signed by the DPS required TAC or Administrator. Please note this is not the same as the PSRS Local Administrative User, though it is recommended that it be the same person. Courts/jurisdictions with TLETS access will also be required to have a set of guidelines that they abide by on the use of TLETS access.

      Step 5 - Get a TLETS ID, if Required

      In order to pull criminal history information from TLETS a user must have been assigned a TLETS User ID by DPS. A TLETS User ID is assigned to an individual through their jurisdiction's ORI number. In order to generate a PSR, the PSRS will pull information from TLETS, therefore, if a user requires access to create PSRs through the PSRS, a TLETS User ID must be requested from DPS. To request a TLETS User ID from DPS, a New User Request Form must be submitted by the jurisdiction's Terminal Agency Coordinator (TAC) or the Administrator assigned under the ORI number.

      This will only be required for magistrates or other individuals who generate PSRs, not for those who simply review PSRs.

      For more information on how to request a TLETS ID contact DPS via email at: TLETS@dps.texas.gov

      Step 6 - Take any Required DPS Training

      See the other section on the DPS training in this FAQ to determine which, if any, course you will need to take.

      Step 7 - Take any Required Judicial Education

      See the other section on judicial education requirements for information on what the requirements are and how to fulfill them.

    • Art. 17.022(f) of the Code of Criminal Procedure provides that if the PSRS is down for more than 12 hours, a defendant charged with only misdemeanor offenses may be magistrated without considering a PSR. Best practice would be to consider criminal history from an alternate source if possible.

      The statute is silent as to what happens if the defendant is charged with a felony. TJCTC recommends performing the magistration and making the bail decision within the statutorily-mandated 48 hour time period, and considering criminal history from an alternate source if possible, and considering a PSR when available, and scheduling a bond modification, if necessary.

    • If you are having a problem with the two-factor authentication, download instructions here

      TJCTC is unable to provide assistance related to your login, ORI, LAU, or other details of the PSRS. For assistance on these issues, including over-the-weekend help through April 15, you can reach OCA's bail team by emailing bail@txcourts.gov. You can reach the Automon help desk by calling 480-368-8555 and selecting option 2, or by email at support@automon.com.

    • Effective April 1, it is mandatory in most situations, including after an on-sight arrest or on an arrest warrant based on probable cause for a new offense, for a magistrate to review a PSR before setting bail. 

      If you have not yet gotten signed up, in order to magistrate, the best option is to have someone who has access print off a PSR for you to review. 

      Please see the other sections of this page for more info on signing up, and contact OCA or Automon for assistance in signing up, as TJCTC is unable to assist in that process.

      Keep in mind that you will need to complete the self-paced CJP certification if you review criminal history, including PSRs. You will need to complete the 8-hour TLETS mobile certification if you are going to query the system to create PSRs. You do have a six-month grace period to get these certifications, so you do not have to wait until they are completed before accessing the system.

    • If you do not perform magistrations or set bail under Chapter 17, you will not need to register to use the PSRS.

      However, the 8-hour initial education requirement, and the 2-hour requirement each subsequent state fiscal biennium do apply to all justices of the peace, regardless of whether they perform magistration or set bail.

      The DPS training classes to access criminal history would not be required for any justice of the peace who does not view PSRs or otherwise review criminal history documents.

    • Don't worry! The system is being finalized currently, but detailed PDFs and screencasts will be provided shortly. Additionally, anyone may view recordings of the training sessions on this OCA resource page. There are separate trainings for LAUs (people who add users to the system) and end users (such as magistrates reviewing PSRs and submitting bail forms.)

      TJCTC is unable to provide assistance related to your login, ORI, LAU, or other details of the PSRS. For assistance on these issues, including over-the-weekend help through April 15, you can reach OCA's bail team by emailing bail@txcourts.gov. You can reach the Automon help desk by calling 480-368-8555 and selecting option 2, or by email at support@automon.com.

    • Note that users have a six-month grace period to receive these certifications after registering to use the PSRS.

      There are two different levels of certification that users will require, depending on how they will interact with the PSRS, the 8-hour TLETS Mobile Access Certification and the self-paced (roughly 90-120 minute) Criminal Justice Practitioner certification. Additionally, anyone who will be accessing criminal history information or present while it is handled or discussed must take the CJIS Security Training Course.

      Criminal Justice Practitioner Certification (Self-Paced, 1.5-2 hours)
      Individuals who only access hard or electronic copies of PSRs, and do not query or search TLETS themselves directly through a terminal or the PSRS, will only have to obtain and maintain a Criminal Justice Practitioner (CJP) certification. This would apply, for example, for magistrates who have sheriff department or other jail personnel query the system and generate PSRs for the magistrate to view. TLETS Mobil Access Certification is not required for these types of users but can still be obtained if desired. The CJP certification can be obtained after a one-two hour self-paced online course. Recertification is required after two years.

      If at some point the user begins to access TLETS directly through the PSRS, the TLETS Mobil Access Certification must be completed.

      A User Request Form must be completed by the jurisdiction's TAC or Administrator to request access to either certification training. This form is password protected as personal information is needed to create an account. For access to the User Request Form, questions about the TLETS access trainings and certifications, or to verify if certifications are still valid, contact DPS via email at: TCIC.Training@DPS.Texas.gov

      TLETS Mobile Access Certification (8 hours)
      All users who will be directly querying TLETS through the PSRS to pull criminal history information on a defendant must have a current TLETS Mobile Access Certification. This certification is granted after the completion of an 8-hour live training. The training is provided by DPS, both virtually and in-person, on specific days and times. New users have a 6-month grace period to complete the 8-hour training from the date they received TLETS access. Recertification is required after two years.

      CJIS Security Awareness Training (self-paced, approx. 1 hour)
      Any PSRS users with access to Criminal Justice Information (CJI) through TLETS must take the CJIS Security Awareness Training. Training shall be taken within six months and biennially thereafter. The training through CJIS Online is web based and self-paced. CJIS Security Policy 5.9 – Section 5.2 Security Awareness is federally mandated. The training is designed to equip those who are authorized to access CJI with basic tools to protect the data.

      For information on how to access the CJIS Security Awareness Training please have the Administrator or TAC email DPS at                  security.committee@dps.texas.gov or cjis.audit@dps.texas.gov.

      For more information on CJIS Security Training please visit the DPS CJIS page.

    • Automon is currently updating the system to add functionality to modify bail forms. A document has been created outlining the steps to follow until the system is further updated. 

      Download the document. 

    • The Local Administrative User (LAU) is a person designated by an agency or entity (such as a jail, court, sheriff's department, etc.) to be responsible for signing that entity's users up to be system end users of the PSRS. Anyone who needs to be logged in to the PSRS to enter information or view PSRs must either be an LAU or be added by an LAU. 

      The Terminal Agency Coordinator (TAC) or Administrator is the person designated by an entity having an ORI to ensure that criminal history is viewed in compliance with applicable restrictions and that anyone using that ORI has the required training to view criminal history, or to query TLETS to pull up criminal history records. 

      The LAU and TAC/Admin can be, but do not have to be, the same person for a given entity, and each locality should decide what makes the most sense for their given needs.

    • Unfortunately at this time, the PSRS does not have functionality to integrate with other case management software systems, though perhaps it will be added with future updates.

    • Unfortunately at this time, the PSRS does not have functionality to fill out and generate magistrate certifications and order forms, though perhaps it will be added with future updates.

    • When a person's bond is modified, a PSR is not required to be considered (though the magistrate or court modifying the bond must consider all of the factors in Art. 17.15(a), including the defendant's criminal history information, so the magistrate may wish to do so by viewing a PSR). 

      However, a bail form must be submitted through the PSRS when the modification occurs, if either the bond type or amount is modified. If only the bond conditions are changed, a new bail form is not required, though there are separate bond condition reporting requirements (discussed elsewhere in this FAQ).

      This requirement would apply to new bonds applied after a modification hearing or after a surety surrender or other bond modification process.

    • For issuance of standard arrest warrants (meaning a warrant issued after presentation of a probable cause affidavit for arrest on a new charge), use of the PSRS will not be required. Bond amounts on arrest warrants are recommendations, and therefore not final determinations of bail, so a PSR does not need to be considered, and a bail form does not have to be generated. When the person is arrested, the magistrate who determines the bail amount must review a PSR and submit a bail form.

      Warrants where the issuing court is determining the bail amount, and a magistrate may not modify that amount, such as warrants on probation revocation hearings, would require a bail form to be generated, but not consideration of a PSR. This bail form should be generated once the defendant is arrested and ordered to post the bail.

      Since there is no bail on a capias pro fine warrant, there is no bail form generated and a PSR does not need to be considered.

    • No. No PSR is needed to be considered because the magistrate isn't "considering the release on bail of a defendant charged with an offense punishable as a Class B misdemeanor or any higher category of offense." because the person isn't charged with a Texas offense. Additionally, a bail form is not needed to be submitted because bail isn't being set under Chapter 17 of the CCP but instead under Chapter 51.

  • FAQ - Magistration Process Under the Damon Allen Act

    • If a magistrate determines that there is no probable cause for a warrantless arrest, the person should be released without requiring any bond, including a personal bond. Since no bail decision is being made, there is no need to consult a PSR, and no need to enter a bail form. The arrest record can be deleted from the PSRS (this does not erase the arrest from the defendant's actual criminal history). 

    • Yes. The bail form captures the bail decision made by the magistrate, and reports that data to OCA. However, the bail form is not the official order determining bail, and so an order signed by the magistrate or judge determining the bail and imposing any conditions of release should be prepared, signed, and delivered to the accused person, just as you have previously done.

      Eventually, the hope is that the PSRS will be able to interface with your court management software and create that order, but that functionality will not be available by April 1. 

    • If a defendant who is already on bail for a previous felony offense is charged with a new felony offense, special rules apply to who can release that defendant on bail.

      • If the offense occurred in the same county as the previous offense, the defendant may only be released on bail by the court in which the previous offense is pending or another court designated in writing by that court. It will be very helpful to have a standing order designating magistrates as eligible to set bail in these cases if the district judge does not want to have to set bail personally in each of these cases within 48 hours of arrest.

      TJCTC has developed a form for courts to delegate determination of bail in felony cases when another felony is pending. Download the form.

      • If the offense occurred in a different county from the previous offense, electronic notice of the new offense must be promptly given to the court before whom the original offense is pending (or a court designated in writing by that court) in order to allow that court to re-evaluate the bond decision, determine if bail conditions were violated, or take any other applicable action.

    • Notification to Defendant of Bond Conditions and Penalties for Violation
      All bond conditions must be provided to the defendant in writing, and a notification must be provided giving the statutory language allowing the conditions, as well as the penalties if the defendant violates the conditions. The PSRS will have a notification form that can be attached to the magistrate or court's bond condition order to satisfy this requirement. This form is also available on TJCTC's forms page. Download the notification form

      Reporting Bond Conditions in All Cases to the County Sheriff and State’s Attorney
      As soon as possible, but no later than the next business day after a magistrate imposes, modifies, or removes a condition of bond, the clerk must send a copy of the order to the appropriate attorney representing the state, and the sheriff of the county where the defendant lives. Additionally, if the order prohibits a defendant from going to or near a childcare facility or school, the clerk must send a copy of the order to the facility or school. The clerk may send this information electronically or by any manner that can be accessed by the recipient. A chief of police or sheriff receiving a copy of an order described above must, as soon as practicable but no later than the 10th day after the copy was received, enter the information into the appropriate statewide law enforcement database.

      Notification to Sheriff of Bond Condition in Violent Offense Case 
      Effective January 1, 2022, magistrates have a duty to notify the sheriff of any bond condition imposed on a defendant for a violent offense. Note that the definition of a violent offense for this purpose is different than the definition of a violent offense which restricts a defendant from being released on a personal bond.

      Additionally, a magistrate must notify the sheriff in any case involving a violent offense of any revocation of bond that contains a condition of release, any modification of a condition of bond in any case, or any disposition of a case involving conditions of release involving a violent offense. The notification should occur as soon as practical, but no later than the day after the issuance of an order releasing the defendant on bond. 

      The report notifying the sheriff of new bond conditions must contain:
      • The identifying information listed in Government Code § 411.042(b)(6);
      • The name and address of any person the condition of bond is intended to protect as well as the name and address of any victim of the alleged offense if different;
      • The date the order releasing the defendant on bond was issued; and
      • The court that issued the order releasing the defendant on bond.

      DPS is required to develop a form to facilitate this report. Download the form. The sheriff is then required to either add or remove, as applicable, the condition of bond from the statewide law enforcement information system maintained by DPS, also known as the Texas Crime Information Center (TCIC). This addition or removal should be done as soon as practical but must be done by the next business day after receiving the information from the magistrate.

      Additionally, the court must send any order imposing a bond condition in a violent offense to any named person that the condition is intended to protect, as well as any victim of the alleged offense, if different. The order must be sent no later than the next business day after the court issued the order.