How Do Bail Bonds Work in Texas?

The bail bond system exists to ensure that individuals charged with crimes appear for their court dates as required while allowing them to move freely between booking and arraignment. After someone has been arrested for a crime in Texas, the judge hearing the case may require the individual to remain in prison until trial, release the individual on his or her own recognizance to appear in court at the required time, or require a bail payment for release until trial.

The justice system ensures that an individual cannot face sentencing until a jury of his or her peers has delivered a guilty verdict following a legal trial, but the justice system must also ensure the safety of the public. Bail is essentially an insurance policy that allows an arrested individual to move freely until trial, with assurance he or she will appear as required on his or her court date. Since bail is typically a large amount, often thousands of dollars, most defendants cannot pay their bail out of pocket. Bail payments must be cash, so the bail bonding system works to allow more flexibility to those facing criminal charges.

What Is a Bail Bond?

A bail bond is a surety bond in the amount of a defendant’s bail. A bonding company, bail agent, or bail bondsman provides a bail bond in exchange for collateral that releases a defendant from jail until his or her court date.

  • A criminal bail bond exists for defendants facing criminal charges and usually entails a much larger bail amount. A criminal bail bond ensures the defendant appears in court as required and guarantees payment for fines and other penalties against the defendant.
  • A civil bail bond basically ensures the payments of debts or penalties from civil cases, plus interest and other expenses.

Bail Bond Example

Once a judge sets a bail amount, the defendant must pay the bail amount in full and in cash to be released from jail. Bail bondsmen and bail agencies typically offer bail bonds at 10% of the total bail amount. For example, the bail bond for a defendant with bail set at $10,000 would be $1,000. If the defendant does not have enough collateral to post the bond, the bail bondsman or bail agent may ask the defendant’s friends and family to help cover bail.

If the defendant receives a bail bond and does not appear in court as required, the bail bondsman or bail agency that posted the bail bond will take the defendant’s collateral to pay off the remaining 90% of the bail amount, and the defendant is liable for the full amount. If the defendant appears in court as required at the appropriate time and date, the court dissolves the bail bond and the bail agency or bail bondsman returns the collateral to the parties who posted it. The bail agency or bail bondsman keeps the cash fee for the bail bond as profit.

Can You Leave the State on Bond in Texas?

The court stipulates specific rules for bail. Paying the bail amount does not automatically release a defendant from responsibility until his or her court date; posting bail may entail additional restrictions and impose specific penalties for violating these rules. The court may state explicit rules against travel during your bail period, and this is usually non-negotiable unless serious circumstances exist to justify leaving the state on bond. The bail agency or bail bondsman may also impose specific requirements for a bail bond, such as requiring the bonded defendant to remain in-state, or the bail agency or bondsman takes the defendant’s posted collateral.

If you ever post bail, be sure to carefully review the stipulations of both the bail agency or bail bondsman and the rules set by the court. Violating these rules could lead to significant penalties and influence your sentencing. Contact The Law Offices of David A. Breston today for more information about bail bonds in Texas.