Texas Bail Bonds FAQ's
1. What is a Bond?
Bond is a dollar amount an arrested person needs to post as collateral for their release. If the person doesn't come to court when requested, then the bond can be forfeited and an arrest warrant issued.
2. What is a Cash Bond?
A cash bond is where an arrested person (usually through their family) pays the full amount of the bond to secure the release on their own accord. When the case is over, regardless of the outcome, the bond is refunded directly to the accused person.
3.What is a Bail Bond?
Often people can't afford to pay cash for a bond. A bail bond is where a 3rd party guarantor assures the county that if the person forfeits -- that this person will pay the county it's money. Guarantors can be certain lawyers authorized by the county to do so or can be bail bond companies.
4. How Does Bond get Set?
Bond can be set a handful of different ways. If someone is arrested pursuant to an arrest warrant, then the warrant will usually have a bond amount already assigned. In most cases, though, bond is set after the arrested person is taken to a magistrate judge who then sets the bond.
In Collin County, where a lawyer files a writ of habeas corpus in certain misdemeanors (usually DWI, Theft, or marijuana drug possession arrests), it will also trigger an immediate bond without having to wait to see the magistrate. These are referred to locally as writ bonds (http://roselawtx.wordpress.com/2010/12/08/collin-county-writ-bonds/).
Under Texas law, an automatic bond of $5,000 should be set on any misdemeanor offense where the accused has not been taken to a magistrate within 24-hours after the arrest under Tex.Code.Crim.P. 17.033(a) and $10,000 bond for felonies after 48-hours.
5. Can a Non-Lawyer File a Writ of Habeas Corpus?
No. A writ bond is a formal pleading filed by one person on behalf of another. That requires a license to practice law.
6. Are there Other Reasons to Hire a Lawyer for a Writ Bond in Collin County?
Yes. An attorney can obviously do far more than just file the writ. A lawyer can meet with your loved one in custody to give them legal advice they can use if there is an ongoing investigation and help to answer questions they may have. Also, the attorney can usually give you instant professional analysis of the case to answer some of the many questions the family may have.
7. Can a Lawyer Also do a Bail Bond?
Yes. Some lawyers are also approved by their counties to be sureties on bonds. For example, I am authorized to write bonds for people arrested in Collin County. This allows me to both file the writ and be a surety so that my client saves money in the transaction by not having to both pay my fee and pay a cash bond in addition. You should ask any lawyer you are dealing with if they are also approved by the County. Also, any lawyer acting as a surety is acting as that person's attorney of record pursuant to Texas Occupation Code 1704.163(2).
8. How Do Bail Bonds Work?
Most bail bond companies charge a fee that is a percentage of the over-all bond in exchange for being the guarantor with the County. For example, someone with a $10,000 bond may pay a bondsman a fee of $1,000 (or 10%). The bondsman will then inform the county that if the person does not go to Court to resolve their case, the bondsman may be liable for the entire amount to the County. A bondsman will usually take steps to make sure that the person is aware of their court date, and if necessary, assist in the apprehension of someone that has 'skipped' bail so that they don't have to pay the county in the case of a default. A bondsman can file an application with the Court to be discharged from the bond if they feel the defendant may not appear for court. This filing can result in a warrant and arrest of the defendant.
9. Can a Bail Bondsman Refer a Lawyer to Me?
Texas Occupations Code 1704.304(a) criminalizes certain activity by bondsman and says, "A bail bond surety or an agent of a bail bond surety may not recommend or suggest to a person for whom the bail bond surety executes a bond the employment of an attorney or law firm in connection with a criminal offense." Also a bail bondsman can lose their license if they, "recommend(s) to a client the employment of a particular attorney or law firm in a criminal case." See Tex.Occ.C. 1704.252(11).
Getting a loved one out of jail can be a trying experience. The number one priority is taking care of your friend or family member. There is no such thing as a bad question when your dealing with a bail bond company or an attorney.
*Jeremy F. Rosenthal is an attorney licensed to practice law in the State of Texas and is authorized to write surety bonds in Collin County, Texas. Nothing in this article is intended to be legal advice. For legal advice about any specific situation you should consult an attorney directly.