How the bail bond system works for Texas criminal defendants
Bail is the amount of money that an accused person pays in order to be released from custody as they await trial. A bond, on the other hand, is a promise made in money, and a bonds company hired by the defendant pays the amount. Therefore, the bail can either be a personal bond or a bail bond.
For example, when arrested, the court can ask for a bail of $60,000. If you have the cash then, you simply pay and get bailed. If you can’t access the cash and still want to be out of custody, you can ask for a bail bond. The bail bond is a legal agreement between the accused and the bonds company. The bonds company will post the bail and assure the court that the defendant will appear for trials.
If you post the bail bond, the court will release you under pending trial, and if not posted, you will remain in custody until after the trial. Texas bail bond companies must have a license from the state of Texas for the bail bond to be accepted.
How does the bail system work in Texas?
Texas bail bonds laws are not so different when compared to other states. When charged with a crime in Texas, the court arrests the accused, books the trial date and the judge sets the bail amount. The defendant can either choose to stay in custody until the day of trial or post bail.
When it comes to bail, the defendant can either get a cash bail or bond bail. If the defendant has the cash, then it is simple; they pay the total amount to the court and get a release with a pending trial.
If the defendant can’t raise the cash, then they apply for a bail bond. The bail bond agent arranges how the defendant will get a bond bail from the bonds company. The defendant then signs an agreement with them in order to post the bail.
For various bonds companies, the defendant pays a premium fee of 10 percent of the total bail amount, then the bonds company covers the bail. At this point, the bonds company becomes responsible and assures the court that the defendant will appear for the trial.
How much does bail cost in Texas?
In Texas, every court has a bond schedule that guides the judges on bail, depending on the type of crime. However, the judges and magistrates are free to adjust the amount, depending on the case. The common factors that the court uses to determine the bail amount are:
- The severity of the case
- Whether the defendant was out on bail during the arrest
- Whether the defendant may be a risk to society
- Whether the defendant has prior criminal convictions
- Whether the defendant is on probation due to another crime conviction
- Whether the defendant is considered a flight risk
However, bail doesn’t have to be in cash form. In some cases, the court can take credit cards or collateral. The collateral can include vehicles, real estate or valuable property.
Do you get bail money back in Texas?
After paying the bail amount, the defendant still has to go to trial. If the defendant appears in court for trial, they get their money back. However, if the defendant defaults to the court trial, they will not get their money back.
In the case where the defendant took a bail bond, the 10 percent paid as a premium fee is non-refundable. If the defendant appears in court as required, the bonds company gets their money back. If the defendant fails to appear in court, the bonds company loses their money, and the defendant is responsible for the losses.
How a defense lawyer can help reduce your bail amount
After the court has set the bail amount, the defendant has the right to ask for a reduction. In such a case, the court holds a bail hearing to decide whether to reduce it. The defense lawyer can help the defendant get a reduction by arguing that the defendant is not a flight risk.
If you are a resident of Texas, you have a job that supports your family, have no passport and have never been out of Texas, then you are not a flight risk. However, if the defendant has no ties to the Texas community and can fly away when given bail, the bail amount may be set higher.
A bail bond is not an unconditional release from jail. The defendant must meet specific conditions to stay out of jail with a pending trial. Failure to appear to court on the set trial dates puts the defendant in trouble and the court will give orders for immediate arrest.