Most people have heard of bail bonds. If a person is arrested on a criminal charge, they may be detained until their trial unless they post the required bail. One way to meet the required bail is to post a bail bond obtained by or on behalf of the incarcerated person. When a bond is issued, the bonding company guarantees that the defendant will appear in court on the specified date and time. The bond protects the government entity (state or federal) in whose court the defendant must appear. If the defendant fails to appear, the bond amount becomes payable and is forfeited by the surety insurer who issued the bond as a penalty. To protect the surety, bail bonds typically require collateral (cash, a deed, or other property).
Bail Bonds in Texas
If you know somebody waiting in a Texas County Jail to be bonded out it is very important that you find a qualified, licensed bail bond agency:
Bail bonds are issued by licensed “Bail Agents” who specialize in the underwriting and issuance of these bonds. Bail agents serve as authorized representatives of licensed surety insurance companies.
With the sea of bail bond providers available, how do you know which one to choose? What is the difference between different bail providers?
First of all, a good bail bond company will be available 24 hours a day. If you are arrested in the middle of the night you don’t want to stay in jail overnight waiting for your bail bondsman to come down and bail you out.
Another factor to consider is how quickly the company will be able to make a decision on whether they will underwrite your bond. Most people think that the bail bond process is as easy as paying 10% of bail and getting out of jail – in reality, the bail bond companies has to make a decision on whether they think you are a flight risk since they stand to lose the entire face value of bail if you skip town.
Most bail bond companies with a lot of experience can make the decision quickly – usually within an hour of receiving your application. The best indicator of how quickly a bail bond company will move is just how fast they are when you call them up. If they don’t answer you should move on.
It is simply a matter of depositing the full amount of the bond with the jail. Only cashier’s checks or money orders in the amount of the bail will be accepted by Travis County Jail (not cash).
There are a few reasons why this isn’t always the best option for someone trying to get out of jail. First, because bond is usually set in the thousands rather than the hundreds of dollars, many people will find themselves unable to raise the funds as quickly as their friend or loved one requires to be released from jail. Second, the funds will be frozen until the case is resolved, which could take a year or more. This is not a good way to spend money in general.
The Travis County PreTrial Services Office will interview an arrestee shortly after their arrest to determine whether they qualify for a personal bond. If they qualify, they will only have to pay a $20 PR Bond fee to the office. This is the least expensive way to get out of jail. However, it is not always the best option for a recently arrested person.
First, if a person is arrested in the middle of the night (say, 2:00 a.m. for a DWI), the judge will not see them until much later in the afternoon – if at all.
Second, depending on the number of people arrested, it may take more than 12 hours for the PreTrial Services Office to approve a bond for any given individual. It is not uncommon for someone arrested for DWI at 2:00 a.m. to be released on Personal Bond between the hours of 2 and 6 p.m. Most of my clients would prefer to be released much sooner, if at all possible.
Third, the Pretrial Service Office uses very strict criteria to determine whether a person is eligible for a personal bond. Unless an attorney is retained, a person is unlikely to be approved for a Personal Bond.
Lawyer Assisted Bonds
As a lawyer, I can assist you in a variety of ways to get you out of jail. Again, if you need to get someone out of the Travis County Jail in the middle of the night, please use this link. (FRIENDLY RELEASE)
First, I am frequently able to expedite the Personal Bond Process. Even if PreTrial Services did not turn in a bond until late in the afternoon, I am usually able to speed up the process and have it turned in shortly after 8 a.m. This can save the client a lot of time in jail.
Second, if the client does not qualify for a personal bond, I can frequently obtain approval for a percentage cash deposit bond. This money can usually be applied to the fee I charge to represent the person in court.
Third, if the person is arrested and booked but has not seen the judge to have a bond amount set, only a lawyer can get him out in the middle of the night in Travis County. This is known as a HOBBY RELEASE. To be eligible for a Travis County hobby release, a person must meet a number of conditions.
Because my primary business is DWIs, I have attorneys available at all hours of the day and night to assist people who have recently been arrested in getting out of jail. Please call toll free to speak with an attorney who can assist you right away.
Surety or Bail Bonds
Finally, in some cases, hiring a bail bond company to guarantee the amount of the bond is required. To get someone out of jail, bail bond companies typically charge at least 15-20% of the bond amount. Of course, in some cases, it is more. The money paid to a bondsman can never be applied to a case’s attorney’s fees.
As you can see, there are several ways we can assist you in obtaining your friend’s or loved one’s release from jail. My phones are answered 24 hours a day, seven days a week. If you are unsure whether we can assist you, please contact me and explain the situation. We have a good chance of being able to assist you. If not, we’ll be happy to point you in the right direction.
If a person arrested (or their representatives) are unable to post cash bail or a percentage of bail for a surety bond with a TX bail bond company, a property bond may be the next available option. You may be able to get out of jail by posting a property bond with the court, depending on the judge and jurisdiction. The court records a lien on some piece of property worth more than the full bail amount.
If the defendant attends all court dates, the bail will be lifted and any property returned to the person who posted collateral. If the defendant does not appear, the court may foreclose on property to recover the forfeited bail amount. A warrant for the defendant’s arrest may be issued in addition to the loss of the property/collateral. If the property bond was posted by a bond agent, the bail bondsman may search for the defendant or hire someone to return them to custody. To avoid having to pay the entire bail or sell the collateral, the “bail jumper” may be forcibly returned to authorities.
Late Night (Hobby) Jail Release
If you are arrested for a DWI/DUI after 1 a.m. in Texas and there is no magistrate available, you will not have a bail amount set until the following day, which can sometimes mean the following afternoon. You can only be released the same night if you hire an attorney to perform a late-night Hobby Release, named after former Lieutenant Governor William “Bill” Hobby.
Laws in Texas on DWI
With a.08 BAC, a person is legally intoxicated in Texas and can be arrested and charged with DWI (blood or breath alcohol concentration). However, regardless of BAC, a person is intoxicated if they are impaired by alcohol or other drugs. You can be fined up to $500 if you have an open alcohol container in your vehicle, whether you’re the driver or a passenger.
DWI with a Child Passenger
You can be charged with child endangerment for driving while intoxicated if you’re carrying passengers younger than 15 years old. DWI with a child passenger is punishable by:
- a fine of up to $10,000,
- up to two years in a state jail, and
- loss of your driver license for 180 days.
What Happens if You’re Stopped
If you are pulled over, have your driver’s license, proof of insurance, and vehicle registration ready. If you refuse a blood or breath test, your driver’s license will be suspended for 180 days.
Punishment for DWI varies depending on the number of convictions:
- A fine of up to $2,000
- Three days to 180 days in jail
- Loss of driver license up to a year
- Annual fee of $1,000 or $2,000 for three years to retain driver license
- A fine of up to $4,000
- One month to a year in jail
- Loss of driver license up to two years
- Annual fee of $1,000, $1,500 or $2,000 for three years to retain driver license
- A $10,000 fine
- Two to 10 years in prison
- Loss of driver license up to two years
- Annual fee of $1,000, $1,500, or $2,000 for three years to retain driver license
*After two or more DWI convictions in five years, you must install a special ignition switch that prevents your vehicle from being operated if you’ve been drinking.
How to Stay Safe
- Don’t drink and drive.
- Designate a driver.
- Call a cab.
- Spend the night where you are, if possible.