If you or someone you care about has been arrested and put in jail in the state of Texas, contacting a bail bondsman might be the first thing on your mind. Of course, this process is much different (and more time-consuming) than what you see on all those procedural crime TV shows, so it’s important to know what to expect in a real-world situation.
Texas is one state that has several laws in place regarding bail, bail agents, and other matters so that you can ensure that you are working with a reputable source, no matter whom you hire. Of course, not all companies are created the same, so you’ll want to do a little research before you get started.
Part of that research comes in understanding the bail process in Texas. Here’s what you need to know.
How Long After the Arrest Until Bail Is Set?
No set timeline is laid out for bail posting and processing. However, Texas law requires that most defendants be brought before a judge within 48 to 72 hours of their arrest and booking. This could vary if the courts are busier or if someone was arrested on a holiday or a weekend, but it’s usually only a matter of a few days before a bail arrangement is made.
Some people will hire a lawyer right away or contact a bail bondsman as soon as the arrest is made, which can speed up the process in some cases because they have the means to push for your release and setting of a bail amount.
What Are the Options for Getting Released from Custody?
Typically, if the judge is allowing the accused to be released from jail custody, there will be a few different options presented. First, you can post the full bail amount in cash. If you’re short on cash, you may be able to use collateral (property you own) to secure and back up a bail bond provided by a licensed bail bond agent.
In some cases, a judge may decide to release someone on their “own recognizance,” which means they know that they’ve done something wrong, and they will not skip town or avoid returning for their court hearing(s).
On this note, it’s important to understand that most bail bonds have an agreement that states you will not go out of town, out of state, or that other travel restrictions will be in place. If you need to travel while on bail, it will have to be approved by the bonding company. Otherwise, they could report it as someone who fled bond, which will result in a subsequent arrest and visit to jail. Fleeing can also add charges to the case and void any bail arrangements or prevent future bail allowances.
How Does the Process Work?
Generally, only adults who have valid identification and no criminal record will be able to bail someone out of jail. In Texas, that cosigner must also be at least 18 years of age. The paperwork only takes about 10 minutes and once it’s complete, you will pay the bail bond premium payment with the payment method of your choice. Most bail companies accept:
- Credit cards
- Money orders
- Western Union
- American Express Travelers Checks
In addition to paying the bail bond premium, you may be required to provide some type of collateral to secure the bond:
- High-end electronics
As long as the hearing has happened and bail has been set, it isn’t hard to get the bail posted. Most bail companies will be able to issue the bond within 24 hours of the initial hearing. And of course, the sooner you call, the better. You’ll be prepared with a bail bondsman so that as soon as the hearing takes place, you can help your loved one get out of custody until their court date.
Do Costs Vary Between Bail Bondsmen?
Bail bond agents charge a premium for writing a bond, since it is a form of insurance. All bail bond agents in Texas charge the same 10% premium for writing bail bonds, so you should not have to worry about pricing differences.
When Does the Bail End?
As we discussed, if someone flees during their time out on a bail bond, the bail is immediately forfeited, and the bail money will be given to the court by the bail bond agent in exchange for the missing defendant. If this happens, the bail bond agent may seize any collateral he has taken to secure the bond. The bail bond agent usually tries to find the arrestee and return him to jail to avoid paying the forfeited bail. If the defendant follows the law and shows up to their court date, that is when the bail is terminated, and the process ends.
This happens regardless of the outcome—if someone is put on a continuance or needs to extend bail for another reason, they will have to re-apply and get a new bond. The good news is that if you rely on the assistance of a professional, experienced Texas bail bonds company, you can guarantee that the process will go smoothly, and you will have fewer worries and uncertainties. There are several perks to choosing to bail your loved one out of jail, and the process is relatively simple so it should put some relief on the entire legal process for you.