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A Guide To Posting Bail In Texas

When a loved one has been arrested, you may be scared, angry, and worried, not to mention the bail process can be frustratingly confusing and complicated. Putting all emotions aside, when a friend or family member has been arrested, you should know the proper steps to take to get your loved one released from jail. Continue reading for a breakdown of the different types of bail and the ways in which it can be posted.

What Happens After Arrest?

When a person has been arrested, he or she will be taken to either a city or county jail, depending on the charges presented. Once taken to a jail, the arrested will be formally presented with charges and booked. What does ‘booked’ mean? During booking phase, the police office that arrested the person will file an official report to present to prosecutors, who will eventually decide how to proceed with the case. The official report will include the details of the arrest including the time, date, location, and reason for detainment. During booking, photos or ‘mugshots’ of the arrested person will be taken, and fingerprints will be printed and filed. Also, the arrested person can expect to be searched and interviewed with an intake officer. Lastly, the arrested person will usually have a chance to make a phone call so that a friend or family member can come to the police station to post bail.

Bail: What Is It?

After arrest and booking, a detained person will be informed of their various release options. Bail is an amount of money presented to the court system so that an arrested person can be released instead of incarceration while awaiting trial. This amount of money will be returned once the arrested person has followed through will all court proceedings, including appearing in trial and paying all fees. Bail was created in old English law as a system to ensure that a person facing criminal charges would not avoid the trial and flee the country, but appear in court. With a large amount of money at stake, the court hopes that an accused person will have a significant incentive to appear in court to face charges. In addition, bail was also created as a way to avoid incarcerating the innocent–not all people charged with a crime are innocent, and it can take several weeks or even months for a case to go to trial.

How Is Bail Determined?

Some charges have set bail amounts, especially lesser charges like misdemeanors. However, if a bail hearing is necessary, the judge will decide how to set bail based on other factors. The judge will consider whether the accused is a flight risk, if he/she is a danger to the community, and whether the person has a lengthy criminal record. Taking all of these factors into account, the judge will eventually come up with a number–the amount will be much larger if it meets the above-stated criteria.

Jail Release Options

  • Cash Bail. For a cash bail release, the entire amount of money required for release must be presented at once. This is not usually common, because most people do not have this type of liquid cash lying around, unless bail is posted for a minor charge or misdemeanor.
  • Surety Bond. Not all people can afford to pay bail upfront, in fact, most people cannot. A surety bond is basically a loan from a third party bondsman to pay bail for jail release. The bail bond company is backed by an insurance company, and agrees to pay the amount if the arrested does not show up for trial. In return, the bail bondsman is paid a percentage of interest by the arrested person or his/her family.
  • Release on Own Recognizance. In this type of release option, a detained person does not need to pay bail at all. Instead, the court must accept the word of the arrested person that he/she will appear at trial. This is pretty rare, and it is usually reserved for very minor charges. Also, the court considers if a person is a flight-risk; if not, then release on own recognizance may be issued.

Bail: Minor Charges vs Serious Charges

For less serious offenses, a person can post bail immediately after being booked. Most of the time, bail for misdemeanors is set at a standard amount, therefore there is no need for a judge to set bail. As a result, a person arrested for a lesser charge will usually be released much sooner than those facing more serious charges, like felony assault or sex crime charge. More serious charges will result in the arrested person being detained for up to 72 hours until the next available court date for bail hearing before a judge.

What If I Have A Hold On My Record?

If you have a hold on your record, this will prevent you from being able to post bail, and you will remain in jail until the hold has been resolved. What is a hold? A hold is something on a person’s record that was either ignored or forgotten about, such as outstanding traffic tickets, that causes a person to be detained until addressed. Once a hold has been settled, a person may be released on bail or bond, depending on the circumstances.

How Much Do Bondsmen Charge?

Bail bondsmen run businesses of their own, so getting a surety bond will cost you. The cost of a surety bond is usually 10% of the bail amount. Say for instance, a judge sets your bond at $20,000. A bondsman can get you out from behind bars, but it’ll come with a $2,000 price tag.

Contact Your Criminal Defense Attorney for Jail Release

If you plan on hiring an Austin criminal defense attorney, it is in your best interest not to contact a bondsman. The compassionate lawyers at Carroll Troberman, PLLC are trained to negotiate reduced bail and better conditions for release. Resist the urge to call a bondsman; by going through your attorney alone, you will save money in the long run. Attorneys Blair Carroll and Shelly Troberman are available any time of the day or night to pay your bail and get your released from jail as soon as possible.
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