How does bail work?
When an individual is arrested for a crime in the State of Texas, typically that person will be taken to a local law enforcement station for booking, prior to incarceration in a station lock-up or county jail. Once arrested and booked, the defendant has several options for release pending the conclusion of his or her case. Bail is designed to guarantee the appearance of a defendant in court at the time directed by the judge.
What are the release options if someone is arrested?
There are three basic release options available. The three options are:
- Surety Bond
- Cash Bail
- Release on Own Recognizance (O.R.)
An alternative to cash bail is a surety bond. This process involves a contractual undertaking guaranteed by an admitted insurance company having adequate assets to satisfy the face value of the bond. The bail agent guarantees to the court that they will pay the bond forfeiture if a defendant fails to appear for their scheduled court appearances. The bail agent’s guarantee is made through a surety company and/or by pledging property owned by the bail agent.
For this service, the defendant is charged a premium. By involving the family and friends of a defendant, as well as through the acceptance of collateral, the bail agent can be reasonably assured that the defendant released on a surety bond will appear at all of his/her court appearances.
After this procedure is completed, the bail agent will post a bond for the full bail amount, financially guaranteeing the defendant’s return to court as scheduled.
With money on the line, the bail agent has a financial interest in supervising bailees and ensuring that they appear in court each and every time the court orders them to appear. If the defendant does not appear in court (skips), the bail agent has time and the financial incentive to find the defendant and bring him/her to court.
Cash bail means a person must give the court or jail the total amount of the bail in cash. The cash will be held by the court until the defendant appears at all of his/her court cases and the case is concluded. Full cash bonds provide a powerful incentive for the defendant to appear in court. If the defendant appears for all of his/her scheduled court appearances, the cash bail should be returned.
Release on Own Recognizance (O.R.)
Another method of release pending trial is through a pre-trial release program administered by the county or a law enforcement agency. Usually, the employees of these programs interview defendants in custody and make recommendations to the court regarding the release of individuals on their own recognizance (i.e., without any financial security to ensure the defendant’s return).
The interview process is often conducted over the telephone, usually with little inquiry into the defendant’s background. The interview process attempts to determine whether the detainee is likely to appear in court. There is usually no verification of information provided by the defendant. Since no money, property, or bond is posted to secure the defendant’s appearance in court, he/she faces no personal economic hardship from the conscious decision not to appear in court.
How much does a bail bond (surety bond) cost?
In Texas, the bail premium, or fee, is typically 10 percent (subject to a minimum premium and underwriting criteria) of the full bail amount. For example, if the bail amount is $10,000, the premium charged is $1,000.
How much of the premium will I get back?
Typically the 10 percent premium is fully earned once the bail bond is posted with a jail or court. That is how bail agents and their surety companies make their money and pay their bills.
What is collateral?
Collateral is anything of value used to financially secure a bail bond.
What can be used as collateral?
Some examples of collateral include credit cards, houses, cars, boats, jewelry, or electronic equipment (you get the idea).
When will collateral be returned?
Collateral is usually returned when the court has finished with the defendant’s case(s), exonerating the bail bond(s), and when all fees have been paid.
How long does it take to be released from jail?
There are two types of jails - city jails and county jails.
City jails are operated by city police departments and county jails are operated by the county sheriff. After a defendant is booked into a city jail (i.e., fingerprinted, photographed, warrants checked, etc.), it typically takes anywhere from 15 minutes to 1 hour to be released on bail.
After a defendant is booked into a county jail, it usually takes anywhere from 2 to 8 hours and up to 24 hours to be released on bail. We wish we could speed up the process but the city and county jails operate at their own pace. Texas Bail Bonds does everything possible to expedite the defendant’s release. Let us assure you we will be by your side every step of the way.