Understanding Bail Bonds
Setting Bond and Personal Recognizance
When you’re arrested for a crime in the Houston area, the arresting officer (with the help of the District Attorney’s office) will decide the charges that will be brought against you. The bail associated with your charges is fixed by the jail staff.
They look at what is called a bond schedule for each of the offenses for which you are charged, add them up, and then assign the appropriate amount of bail that you will need to come up with in order to be released from jail. The arresting officer may ask the judge in charge of your case to set the bail beyond what is listed in the schedule, or if there are extenuating circumstances, he may ask for “no-bond.”
State law required that you appear before a judge within 48 hours of your arrest for a felony and 24 hours for a misdemeanor, excluding weekends and holidays. That means that if you are arrested on Friday evening, you will probably appear before a Houston criminal judge sometime on Tuesday.
In the meantime, an intake deputy with the district attorney’s office will review the police report and decide what criminal charges, if any, will be brought against you. In some cases, the criminal charges against you are dismissed and you are free to go home. In other instances, the D.A.’s office will charge you with a misdemeanor rather than a felony.
When the police arrest someone, they usually charge you with the most severe crime that the offense warrants. This is known as “curbside justice”, when a person is charged with a felony when the facts really warrant a misdemeanor charge. The police know that if a person is charged with a felony is makes it more difficult to get them out of jail, through a higher bond amount and longer processing times.
It is also possible that the D.A.’s office will do the reverse and charge you with a more serious charge than you were originally arrested for. This is a result of prior convictions being found on your rap sheet. The criminal charges that are ultimately placed against you will be the primary determinant on how high your bail amount will be set.
Posting Bond through a Bail Bondsman
If you are assigned a bail amount and are required to post bail, there are three ways of doing it. The first and most popular way is to use the services of a bail bondsman. These bail agencies will usually charge you 10% of the total bail amount in order to post the bail amount with the county authorities. This ten percent amount is not set in stone, so it may be wise to try and negotiate a lesser amount.
Some bondsmen charge six percent, while others require half the amount up front and then will allow you to make payments on the rest, while others give you more liberal terms. It is a good idea to ask around and negotiate, or ask your Houston DWI lawyer to recommend a trusted bail bondsman.
Depositing Bail to the Court
The second way to get out of jail is by depositing the total amount of bail directly to the court. In Harris County, this can be done through the Harris County Clerk’s Office Bonding Window located at 49 San Jacinto in Downtown Houston. The advantage of posting bail in this manner is that, once the trial is finished and the accused has appeared in court as required, the entire amount of the bond will be returned to the person who deposited it, usually within 6-10 weeks. The disadvantage of using cash for bail is that most persons do not readily have the large sums of money needed to do this.
If the case is going to go on for a long period of time, the use of a cash bond may cost a significant amount in lost interest, and it may bring undesired attention from law enforcement authorities. The police and federal government pay special attention to people who post large cash bonds with them, and you may incur the wrath of the Franchise Tax Board or the Internal Revenue Service, even if the police do not find something suspicious in your financial records. It is best to consider all of your options before using cash for bail.
Using Property for Bail
The third and least-popular way of posting bail is by posting a property bond with the court. The owner of the real estate property temporarily transfers the deed of the property to the court while the person is out on bail. The property must be in the State of Texas, but can be located in any county in the state, and can be owned by anyone, not just the accused or a member of the immediate family.
However, the value of the property must equal twice the amount required to make bail. For example, of your bond is set at $100,000, than the property you use to post bond must be valued at $200,000 or higher.
The value on the property is calculated after the subtraction of outstanding mortgages, liens against your property, and/or any outstanding taxes that may be levied against you. Using property for bail is a very complex procedure that may cost quite a bit in order to get the property appraised correctly, and my also take a few weeks to get all of the paperwork in order.
At The Law Offices of Tad Nelson & Associates, we make it our first priority to get our clients out of jail on bail as soon as possible. You will not only feel better, but will look better during your appearances in court. You can get back to work, find work, and/or enter a rehabilitation program if needed.
This will show good faith on your part and will show the court that you are attempting to become a productive member of society. All of this will make our job much easier, and will help us to build a strong case for the defense of your DWI related criminal charges in Houston.