What Is A Bail Bond? Our Houston DWI Lawyer Explains
Understanding Bail Bonds
If you were arrested for drug charges or DWI in the state of Texas, you are probably wondering when you are going to be eligible to get out of jail. Each case is different, but generally, the fastest way to be released before going to trial is bail bonds.
In this article, you will learn how this process works and how a DWI attorney can assist with your release.
What Is A Bail Bond?
This is a way for a person to secure a release from jail prior to going to trial. This is different from having all of the charges dismissed or having a pretrial intervention. In actuality, once a bail bond is secured you have to be especially careful when it comes to attending all of the hearings and court dates that are scheduled for you.
A bail bond promises the court that once you are free from jail, you will come back in order to participate in all court activities. If you appear on all of the required dates, you will receive all of the money back. However, if you do not, the money is forfeited and a warrant may be issued.
How Is A Bail Determination Made?
Within 2 days of being arrested, you will have to go in front of a judge and they will let you know whether you are eligible for bail and the amount that is required to secure your release.
According to the 8th Amendment and the Constitution of Texas, bail cannot be set at an amount that can be deemed excessive. There is a checklist available from the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure that helps one determine the bail amount that should be set. If a judge sets an amount that is exorbitant, those who are not financially stable would have no choice but to remain incarcerated. On the flip side, setting an amount that is far too low means that anyone could pay to be free and some would become fugitives.
The Constitution states that Americans should not pay any more than what is considered necessary to meet the state’s goal; to ensure they appear in court when required. Regardless of the law, there are some judges who set high bail amounts in order to punish the defendant, even though they have yet to be found guilty. This is not acceptable and your DWI lawyer can address this issue at a special hearing.
Since the law requires a judge to take numerous factors into account, there may be conditions placed on your bail. These include submitting to drug testing or being placed on house arrest.
Types of Bail Bonds
All bonds are not the same. There are three different kinds of bonds that can be used to secure a release from jail. Which one you are eligible for depends on your individual circumstances.
When you receive a bond based on personal recognizance, this means that you will be released without paying any money. You only have to promise that you will show up for all future court dates. While there is no particular amount that is set, there is a personal bond fee that is charged. This is typically or 3% of the bond, whichever one is larger.
Since this puts the court in a risky position, everyone is not eligible for this kind of bond. In order to determine whether or not this should be offered to you, an interview is performed by Pretrial services and they decide whether you are a flight risk. People who have been charged with more serious crimes are never eligible for this kind of bond.
With this type of bond, the amount must be made in cash. Even if someone is found guilty when his or her case is complete, the money is returned to them.
Many people are not able to afford the entire amount or they cannot wait until an entire trial is complete before having their money available to them. This is why many people consider surety bonds.
With surety bonds, a third party (like an attorney or bondsman) charges you a fee in order to use their services. This person will use the money they received in order to pay the bail. Since they are only a third party with no special interest in the case, they are not required to pay the whole amount ahead of time, but if you do not show up for court, they will be responsible for paying the remainder to the court.
In the state of Texas, a lawyer can act as your bondsman even if they are your legal representative.
How Do Surety Bail Bonds Work?
This is the most common bond type, so let’s explore this a little.
Let’s imagine Adam was given a bail amount of $60,000. If he cannot afford to pay this, like most people, he can hire a bondsman to get him out of jail. They will charge him $6,000 and use that amount to bond him out.
This is not refundable, so even if he fares well in court, Adam’s money will not be returned. As a guarantee that he will not fail to show up when the time comes, the bondsman may have Adam or someone he knows to provide some collateral. This means that they may have to sign over the rights to their car or house.
Now the bondsman has an interest in making sure that Adam shows up every time court is scheduled. If he does not appear, the bondsman will be responsible for paying the remaining amount. It is also highly likely he will hire a bounty hunter to catch Adam and bring him back to jail. In addition, any collateral that was put up may be lost.
However, if Adam is compliant and does everything he is required to do, the bond will be exonerated and there will be no additional penalties (as far as the bond goes).