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I Need to Pay Bail…How Does It Work?

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After you have been arrested, the last thing you want to do is languish in a jail cell until your court date. If possible, you want to return home and be with your family before you are tried or sentenced. 

However, when you do not have the money to satisfy the terms of your bail, you may need another way to raise the cash. By using the services of a Texas bail bondsman, you can secure your release and remain free until it is time for you to appear before the judge again.

Bail Bond Overview

Before you apply for a bail bond, you need to understand what it is and how it can affect your finances and freedom. In Texas, the court has up to 48 hours after your arrest to set your bail amount. The court requires the bail amount to be paid in full before you can be released from jail.

If you have the cash in your bank account, you can simply pay it to the court and be released from jail until your next court date. However, if you nor any of your friends or relatives have it to spare, you may need to apply for a bail bond.

A bail bond in Texas is essentially a contract between the bail bondsman and the court guaranteeing your appearance at all of your court dates and compliance with the bail bond contract. The bond amount is typically 10 percent of whatever you owe for bail. 

The 10 percent covers the services of the bail bond company and agent assigned to your case. You will not get this money back even if you are found not guilty of the crime for which you have been arrested.

The bail bondsman also guarantees the court that the full bail amount will be paid if you do not show up to your court appearances or you fail to pay the bond amount. To compel you to obey the terms of your contract, the bail bond agent will also have one of your friends or relatives sign the contract and agree to pay the bond if you abscond and the bail bond agent has to pay the court the full amount of bail.

In Texas, there are two primary types of bonds: cash and surety. A cash bond, as its name implies, involves paying the bond in cash. It can be more expensive than a surety bond in some cases because the court typically requires a cash bond to be paid in full upfront. 

A surety bond is reserved for more serious crimes like felonies. It also requires the use of a third party like another bail bond agent or bank to guarantee the bond amount. 

Regardless of the type of bond you apply for, you might be curious about the benefits of using a bail bond to get out of jail. The main reasons to get a bail bond after you have been arrested are:

  • Getting out of jail to work on your case defense
  • Going back to work to earn an income for your family
  • Taking care of your children or another dependent relative
  • Getting your affairs in order if you anticipate going to prison

Once you post the bail bond amount, you will be released from jail promptly and allowed to go home until your next court date.

Looking for a lawyer to represent you in court? Schedule a consultation with criminal defense attorney Brett Podolsky »

Applying for a Bail Bond

When you are behind bars, you may be unable to make the call to a bail bond agent. You will need a friend or relative to do this for you. Despite someone else arranging for your bail bond, you will be the person responsible for paying it back.

The amount of money fronted for you to get out of jail will depend on a variety of factors including:

  • The nature of the crime you have been arrested for
  • Your prior criminal record
  • Your credit score
  • Whether or not you are employed
  • Your ties to the community
  • If you are a flight risk
  • Whether or not you pose a danger to the community

The bail bond agent may also require you to secure the bond with collateral like:

  • Real estate like your house
  • A vehicle like a car, boat, or motorcycle
  • Jewelry
  • Investments like stocks and retirement accounts
  • Your bank account
  • A credit card

If you do not have friends or relatives to sign the bail bond contract, have poor credit and no ties to the community, or you lack collateral to secure your bond, the court may deny you bail. You may have to remain in jail until your court date. 

If you do secure bail, however, you will be expected to abide by strict requirements prior to your next court date. You must avoid breaking any more laws while you are out on bond. You also have to show up to all of your future court dates. If you violate either term, the bail bonds agent could ask the court for a warrant to arrest you. You will not be given another chance to bond yourself out of jail.

The agent will require you to temporarily surrender your rights to your collateral. If you are not found within six months of absconding, you will be required to pay the full bail amount. You also may forfeit ownership of the asset you put up as collateral.

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Hiring a Bail Bond Agent

With all of this information in mind, you may decide if it is prudent to hire a bail bond agent to get out of jail. Once you decide which bail bond agent to hire, you should ask the friend or relative making the phone call for you to read through the contract. You also should make sure this individual actually has the financial means to pay back the bond amount before signing it.

Your friend or relative will need to provide some information to the bail bond agent before you can be released from jail. This information includes your full legal name, your booking number, and the exact amount of your bail. Once the agent has these details, he or she can front the money needed to pay your bond amount to the court.

It can take several days or weeks before your next court date after you are arrested and arraigned for a crime in Texas. You may not want to spend this time behind bars. You might secure your freedom and go home to your loved ones by applying for and using a bail bond.

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