If a friend or family member has been arrested, your first and primary concern is getting them out as quickly as possible. A firm understanding of how bail bonds work in Texas can help you secure their release by providing you with the facts on how to appropriately interact with the system.
A bail bond is a fee required by a court in Texas for a criminal defendant to be freed after arrest. The defendant can be released from detention until trial if bail is paid or posted. If it is not posted, he or she will undoubtedly stay in custody for a trial.
The bond amount is determined by the offense accused and the court hearing the case. Other factors might also have an impact on the quantity. Courts have the authority to release offenders on their recognizance. PR release, as it is commonly known, permits offenders to await their trial from home without having to pay a bond at all.
Defendants unable to pay their bail may employ a bail bondsman to assist them for a fee.
Defendants who post bail must follow the terms of their release. If they do, the bail money will be refunded to them. Failure to appear in court on time may result in bail being forfeited and held by the court.
So what is bail in general, and how do bail bonds work in Texas, specifically?
Bail is a process by which a defendant being held for trial is released in exchange for an amount of money to be held as a guarantee of their appearance at all court hearings about the charges for which they were arrested. The amount of bail money is supposed to be significant enough to induce the person to show up to recover the bail money.
The process begins with arrest when a person is taken into custody and booked. For most crimes, they may be allowed to post bail immediately, while for more serious offenses, they will need to wait for a judge to give them a bail hearing to determine their eligibility. The amount of bail varies by jurisdiction and crime, but the judge usually has discretion. Bail bonds in Texas typically have fairly standard amounts for common crimes.
Once a person is eligible for bail, they can receive one of five different types. Some are more frequently used than others. They are:
- Cash – An individual pays the full bail amount in currency (or sometimes by credit card, depending on the jurisdiction). As most people do not tend to have large lump sums of money readily available, this is not a typical scenario for bail bonds in Texas.
- Surety – What is often considered a typical bail bond offered by a bail bondsman. For bail bonds in Texas, you typically pay 10% of the amount as a premium and may have to provide collateral.
- Citing Out – For petty or minor crimes, sometimes the police will write the offender a citation stating that they must appear in court.
- Personal Recognizance – Often used for petty or minor crimes, the court and judge rely on an offender to keep their word and show up for court without having to post a cash bond.
- Property – A court can place a lien on a property in the amount of a person’s bail.
Once the bail agreement is fulfilled, a person is released until their court date, at which point they are expected to show up for all court proceedings. Doing so entitles them to recover any cash or property put up for bond minus any premiums or fees they agreed to pay.
Hopefully, this has given you a basic understanding of how bail bonds work in Texas, should you ever need to use this knowledge.
How much does bail in Texas cost?
Every court in Texas has a bond schedule that directs judges on bail based on the kind of offense. However, the sum might be adjusted by the courts and magistrates based on the facts of the case. The following are the most general considerations used by the court to set bail amount:
- The gravity of the situation
- Whether the offender was out on bond at the time of his arrest. Whether the criminal poses a risk to society.
- Whether the defendant has a criminal record.
- Whether the defendant is on probation for another offense.
- Whether or if the defendant is a flight risk
However, bail does not have to be paid in cash. In some situations, the court may seize credit cards or other forms of collateral. Vehicles, land, and expensive goods can all be used as collateral.
In Texas, do you receive your bail money back?
The criminal must still appear in court after paying the bond money. If the defendant comes in court for trial, their money is returned. However, if the defendant fails to appear in court, they will not be reimbursed.
If the defendant obtained a bail bond, the 10% premium cost paid is non-refundable. The bonds firm receives its money back if the defendant appears in court as necessary. If the defendant fails to appear in court, the bonds firm loses money, and the defendant is held liable.
Don’t Violate Bail Bond Conditions
When an accused has been bonded from jail, whether by surety bail bond, personal recognizance bail bond, property bail bond, or any other type of bail, he or she should pay close attention to the wording for Bail Bond Conditions.
An Appearance Bond is a contract between the parties and the Court. It will have a list of possible restrictions and/or conditions that the court has required of the accused before being allowed to be released on bail. Those checked by court or jail personnel will be in effect.
Possible Court-Imposed Bail Bond Conditions:
- No Weapons
- No Alcohol
- No Drugs
- No Driving Without A Valid Driver’s License
- Random UA’s
- Random BA’s
- Daily BA’s
- GPS Monitoring
- Substance Abuse Monitoring
- Electronic Substance Abuse Monitoring
- Electronic Home Monitoring
So what happens if these conditions are violated? The court may revoke the bail bond and cause you to have to post a new higher bail bond to be released. There may be other more severe penalties, or you may have committed a new crime. It would be well advised to seek an attorney’s advice for a complete explanation.
*The accused should also be aware that the bail bondsman, should there be one, may have added additional conditions to his/her contract. This is perfectly legal and very binding. Same as above, violate them and go back to jail.
How a defense attorney can lower your bond amount
After the court has determined the bail amount, the defendant may request a reduction. In such a circumstance, the court holds a bail hearing to determine if it should be reduced. By claiming that the defendant is not a flight danger, the defense counsel can assist the defendant in obtaining a reduction.
If you live in Texas, have a job that supports your family, do not have a passport, and have never left the state, you are not a flight risk. However, if the offender has no links to the Texas community and is capable of fleeing if released on bond, the bail sum may be increased.
A bail bond does not guarantee immediate release from jail. To avoid incarceration while awaiting trial, the defendant must satisfy specific requirements. Failure to appear in court on the scheduled trial dates jeopardizes the defendant, and the court may issue an arrest warrant.