What is Bail?
Bail is the amount of money a judge requires a defendant to pay in order to get out of jail. If paid, the defendant is allowed to remain free until their trial is complete. Conditions a judge sets varies depending on the defendant, the crime their accused of committing and other circumstances.
To be released from jail, the defendant must post bond. Although the defendant must pay the money, they typically have no access to funds because they are incarcerated. Their family members and/or friends post the bail on their behalf. If they can’t afford to pay bail, they may secure the money via a bail bondsman.
How a Texas Judge Sets Bail
Recently, judges have used bail algorithms to determine the amount of bail. These bail algorithms depend on factors like:
- The defendant’s age
- Criminal history
- Flight risk. A flight risk is any defendant who may leave the jurisdiction to avoid going to trial.
- Possibility of committing another crime while out on bail
Bond Can be Posted in Three Ways in Texas
When a judge sets bail, they may decide the defendant can be released on a personal recognized bond. The bond, commonly called, PR bond in Texas, allows a defendant to be release from jail without paying money. The defendant simply promises the judge that in exchange for being released from jail, they’ll show up to all court hearings.
PR bonds are only allowed for misdemeanor and some felony charges. Many defendants charged with some serious felonies aren’t able to obtain a PR bond. That doesn’t mean their criminal attorney won’t try to argue for a PR bond.
The two options to post bonds in Texas were briefly discussed earlier. A cash bond is paid, of course, with money. The defendant, or their family member or friend, pays the full amount of the bond to the Sheriff. The money is then refunded after the case is resolved.
A bail bond is paid by a bail bondsman on behalf of the defendant. The bail bondsman, or bonding company, charge a fee for paying the bond. They may ask the court to place additional conditions on the defendant to make sure they appear at every hearing and all court dates during the case. The fee a defendant pays to the bail bondsman on bonding company is non-refundable.
The third bail option is pledging property that is the cost of the bail as collateral. For instance, a person is arrested and bail is set. Parents want to pay bail, but don’t have the money. They may pledge, or use, their home as collateral to get their child out of jail. In exchange for the deed, the person is released from jail. The Sheriff returns the property deed to the parents after their child’s trial is complete.
Bail Reduction Hearings
It’s not uncommon for a judge to set bail so high that a defendant can’t pay. In this case, the defendant’s attorney will request a bail reduction hearing. The hearing is also called a bond reduction hearing. During the hearing, it’s the attorney’s responsibility to show their client:
- Doesn’t have enough collateral to pay the high bond
- Isn’t a flight risk
- Isn’t a danger to the community or any alleged victim or victims
- Has ties to the community
Based on the information provided by the defendant’s attorney, the judge may lower the previous bond set. There is a chance the judge may keep the bail the same amount.
Is a Bail Reduction Hearing the Same as a Bail Hearing?
No. A bail reduction hearing is to reduce the amount of bail previous set at an initial appearance. A bail hearing is setting bail conditions. Every judge wants to make sure defendants show up for every court date.
To ensure this happens, the judge may set certain conditions, or rules the defendant must follow to remain free on bail. It’s common for a judge to tell a defendant to obey all laws or have their bail revoked. Sometimes the conditions are more specific like staying away from the victim until the case has concluded.
What You Should Know About Paying a Bond
When paying a bond, only 10 percent of the bail may be needed. This sounds pretty good when compared to paying a full cash bail. However, bonding company or bail bondsman may require collateral to post the bond.
Take the example of the family member who pledges collateral instead of paying cash bail. If they request the bonding company pay their child’s bail. The bonding company pay do so, but request they pledge their home as collateral too. If the defendant doesn’t show up for one court appearance, the bonding company can take the home.
If contacting a bail bondsman or bonding company is the only option, they require certain information before paying the bond. This information includes:
- Where the person is incarcerated
- The person’s full name and booking number
- The amount of the bail
Once they know this information, they will tell the individual how much it will cost for the company to post bond. The bonding company, or bail bondsman, will also let the family member or friend know about any other requirements they have for getting the defendant out of jail.
Getting Help for You or Your Family Member
After an arrest, the world may seem like it is spinning. You want to get out of jail now. If your family member is incarcerated, you’re worried about them and want them released yesterday. Bail offers a way for a defendant to be released and remain out of jail until their case is resolved. Texas sets all initial appearances within 48 hours of an arrest.
It is only longer than 48 hours if a person is arrested during the weekend or on a holiday. Use the time to work to get out of jail or get a family member out of jail. You may want to contact a criminal attorney. While a criminal attorney can’t guarantee a defendant is released on bail, they will fight for their client. Contact a criminal attorney today.