How Arraignment and Bail Bonds Work
This is a basic guide to understanding the principals of arraignment and bail bonds and what to expect during the process.
ArraignmentOnce criminal charges are filed, you'll make a court appearance known as an "arraignment." If you are incarcerated, this will usually occur within 72 hours of your arrest. During your arraignment, you'll be asked to enter a "plea" to the crime you've been charged with. Texas pleas and corresponding definitions follow:
Guilty plea: If you plead "guilty," you're admitting to the facts of the crime and the fact that you were the one who committed that crime.
Not guilty plea: A "not guilty" plea asserts that you did not commit the crime with which you were accused. After your plea, a pre-trial or trial date will be set.
No contest plea: A "no contest" plea indicates that, while you are not admitting guilt, you do not dispute the charge. This is preferable to a guilty plea because guilty pleas can be used against you in later civil lawsuits.
"Mute" plea: In Texas, you may "stand mute" instead of making a plea. The court will then enter a plea of not guilty. By standing mute, you avoid silently admitting to the correctness of the proceedings against you until that point. You are then free to attack all previous proceedings that may have been irregular.
During the arraignment, the court will also:
1.) Set bail
2.) Refuse to set bail; or
3.) Release you on your own personal recognizance, which means that the court takes your word that you will appear when necessary for later court obligations
Bail Bonds"Bail" is money or property put forth as security to ensure that you'll show up for further criminal proceedings.
In Texas, bail can be paid:
1.) In cash
2.) A pledge of property (if permitted in that court)
3.) A bail bond
A professional bail bondsman is an individual whose business is to pledge his or her own property or security to guarantee the bail bond to the court.