If your loved one is currently in jail and you can’t afford to pay their bail, worry not. Texas has a myriad of options for bail bonds to assist you.
Working with a bail bondsman is a great option if you feel overwhelmed by the process. Having a loved one in jail is stressful enough, and now you have to figure out how bail bonds work in Texas? It’s a lot to handle.
Fortunately, Texas bail bonds are easy to navigate with a little guidance. You can find a reputable bail bondsman through a few easy clicks.
First Off, What Is Bail?
Before we talk about how to navigate the world of Texas bail bonds, we have to explain what bail itself is.
Bail is the amount of money set to release a defendant from jail before their trial. The money is returned to the defendant once the trial is resolved, but only if they appear at every court date.
Because the bail money is meant to be an incentive to appear at court, the amount may seem exorbitant. If your loved one is being charged with a felony-level crime, it may be impossible to pay their bail on your own.
Whether or not the defendant is allowed to post bail immediately depends on their crime and jurisdiction. Most minor crimes allow for bail to be immediately posted. However, some more severe crimes require a bail hearing with a judge.
Different Forms Of Bail
There are a few different ways for the defendant to get out of jail before their court date.
- Cash Bail: If the defendant has committed a minor or petty crime, their bail may be under $1,000. This is the best-case scenario for a cash bond, in which the entire amount is paid at time of release. In many jurisdictions, cash bail can also be paid with a credit or debit card.
- Surety Bond: This is where a bail bondsman gets involved, and pays the amount on behalf of the defendant. The defendant will pay 10 to 15% of the total bond to the bail bondsman as a deposit.
- Property Lien: If the defendant has a particularly high bail amount, the judge may seize the titles to their property as bail. The property must be in the state of Texas, and will become property of the court until the trial is resolved.
If your loved one is released upon Personal Recognizance, you will not have to worry about bail. This is common with minor crimes committed by first-time offenders. The court is trusting the defendant to appear in court without the promise of money.
However, if the defendant is released on Personal Recognizance and fails to appear in court, a warrant can be issued for their immediate arrest.
In severe cases, the defendant may be held without bail as an option. This is common for high-profile or violent crimes. If your loved one is being held without bail, there is little you can do.
Finding A Good Bail Bond Agent
So, how do you find a reputable bail bondsman? How do you know you aren’t getting preyed on or scammed?
First, know that in the state of Texas, licensed bail bond agents must have completed a year’s apprenticeship and take classes on criminal and bail law. Bail bond agents must take a minimum of eight hours of law classes every year in order to renew their license. You can check your bail bondsman’s license here.
Verify that your bail bondsman is backed by the Better Business Bureau, as well. This ensures that they are a reputable business that will work fairly with you.
Trusting Your Bondsman
Rely on your bail bondsman to be transparent and provide a paper trail of all agreements. A good bond agent should be able to talk you through the bail process in simple terms. If they purposely keep you in the dark or seem unable to explain their job, look elsewhere.
It is legal in Texas for bail bond agents to require collateral to their loan. Your loved one may have to hand over the title to their home or car to the bond agent. Consider whether this is a risk you’re willing to take, as you can easily find other bond agents.
Many courts will recommend trustworthy bail bond agents. They work closely with many bail bond companies and will be able to point you in the right direction.
Lastly, trust your intuition. The business of bail bonds attracts a lot of goodhearted people who want to help. But there are some predators there too.
If your gut is screaming not to trust someone, believe it.
Paying Them Back
The defendant pays 10% of their total bond as an initial deposit. If they appear in court and have their bail amount paid back to them, it goes to the bail bondsman and the defendant doesn’t have to pay anything back.
However, if the defendant does not appear in court, then they will have to pay the bond agent back, often with interest. The bond company can then pursue legal action against the defendant in order to get their money back. If the defendant gave their home or car as collateral, the bond company will seize ownership.
Bond companies act on good faith that the defendant will appear in court. The looming threat of financial retribution should encourage your loved one not to miss their court dates.
Now You Know How Bail Bonds Work In Texas
This overview of the bail system in Texas should be a good starting point for your journey. This is a stressful time and you can arm yourself with knowledge as you work through this.
Know that even if you contract a bail bond agent, you will likely still need legal representation. Find a lawyer equally familiar with how bail bonds work in Texas to represent your loved one. While they’re awaiting trial, they are relying on you to put together a great team of family, bail agents, and legal representation.
Go ahead and call a bond company.