What Are Attorney Bonds?
If you or a loved one have been arrested for a crime, in most cases, you’ll have the option to be released from jail pending trial via a bail bond. This bail bond is an amount set by the court that serves as a deposit that guarantees the defendant will return for your court date. The amount can vary dramatically, with bail bond amounts for each criminal charge set based on the severity, the defendant’s criminal history, and many other factors. A bail bondsman usually pays the bail bond amount, but in some states, there is another option, an attorney bond. An attorney bond is similar to a bail bond from a bondsman, but there are some key differences you should know about.
What is an Attorney Bond?
Like a bail bond through a local bondsman, an attorney bond is a surety bond guaranteed by a local attorney (usually a criminal defense attorney). Like using a bondsman, an attorney bond allows you to be released from jail before trial after paying a non-refundable fee, usually 10% of the total bond amount. Instead of paying the bondsman (or the full cash bond to the court), you pay that 10% fee to an attorney. Attorney bonds are most common in Texas, where criminal defense attorneys can register with their local county to be eligible to write bail bonds.
What’s the difference between attorney bail bonds and using a bail bondsman?
If you’re posting bail through a criminal defense lawyer instead of a bondsman, the process on your end is no different. You’ll still need to pay a non-refundable 10% fee, fill out the necessary paperwork, and agree to the conditions of your release pending the court date. That is where the similarity ends, though.
If you use the services of a bail bondsman, once they post bail on your behalf, you’ll have to check in regularly, but that’s the end of the relationship. If you post bond using an attorney, that’s just the begging of the client relationship. Texas law says that the attorney who holds your bond has to be the lawyer who will represent you in court. As part of the bonding process, the attorney will file paperwork with the local court stating that they will be your legal counsel in addition to holding your bond. They do not have to be the only attorney working as your legal representation; they don’t even have to be the main one, but they do have to be involved in your criminal case somehow other than just bonding you out of the county jail. A common mistake when using an attorney bond is overlooking the fact that you’ll be attached to this lawyer until the court case is resolved. Many times loved ones look for the first person who can secure jail release and end up hiring a bail bond lawyer without realizing the implications.
The other big difference when using an attorney bond instead of a local bail bond company is that you can save money in the long run. If you know that you’ll be fighting the case in court, using an attorney instead of a bondsman can be a smart move. Many criminal defense lawyers in Texas allow their clients to use the 10% cash bond fee towards their legal representation fees. This 10% can even take the place of paying a cash retainer in some cases.
An attorney bond can be a quick way to get started on your legal defense from the first phone call, but it’s essential to make sure the law firm is right for you and your case. Almost every law firm offers a free consultation, and you should take advantage of that to make sure this is who you want representing you at court appearances.