Houston Criminal Law Blog


Pretrial Release: Freed on Bail or Your Own Recognizance

People who have previously been charged with a crime likely know how bail works. Whenever a person pleads not guilty to a charge, their trial could be set at a time months in the future. Some serious crimes aren’t even tried for years in some cases. Whether a judge grants bail or not will be the deciding factor in whether a person waits for their trial date in jail or as a free person. If a judge remands the accused, they’ll have to sit in jail until their trial begins. On the other hand, a judge may choose to offer bail to the accused. Texas law defines bail as monetary payment that is meant to ensure the defendant shows up for trial.

Being Granted Bail During the Arraignment

An arraignment is a person’s appearance before a judge after being arrested. It is at this point that the judge will notify the defendant as to whether or not they’ll receive bail. The judge also formally notifies the accused of the charges they’re facing, and these charges sometimes play a big role in a judge’s decision on bail. The bail amount set by a judge is usually final, but there are a few circumstances, such as the discovery of new evidence, which could lead to an adjustment in bail.

Release on Your Own Recognizance

There are times when a judge may not feel the need to set a bail amount in order to ensure that a defendant shows up for their court date. This is often done in the case of a misdemeanor offense, or if the judge trusts the defendant to show up. This is known as being released on one’s own recognizance. A person will likely have to sign an oath promising that they’ll come to their court dates. A judge usually only makes this decision if the defendant has significant ties to the community such as children, a good job or a spouse.

How to Pay Bail

There are numerous ways in which a person can pay bail. Judges are allowed, in most states, to decide how much bail a person will have to pay if they’re not released on their own recognizance. The seriousness of the offense has a great deal to do with the bail amount. Some people pay the bail straight out with cash. Other defendants, on the other hand, do a property bond, which creates a lien on their property, to ensure they come to court.

People also have the option of using a bail bondsman. A bail bondsman will provide the bail money for a defendant’s release, but the defendant has to pay a certain percentage, usually 10 percent, of what the bail amount is to the bondsman. This is the bail bondsman’s fee. However a person chooses to handle their bail, the courts will keep this amount if the person fails to come to court on the specified day. This is sometimes known as jumping bail.

To learn more about the process of paying bail, give The Law Office of Matthew D. Sharp a call today at 713-868-6100.

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