Chances are good that you are at least passingly familiar with the notion of bail. It’s been portrayed so frequently on TV and in movies that most of us have some knowledge of the process. However, things can be quite different when faced with reality. If you or a loved one have been arrested in Texas, you’ll need to know how the state’s bail process works for criminal court cases.
Is Bail the Same as Bond?
You’ll hear two terms used interchangeably in the legal world – bail and bond. Are they the same thing? Yes, they are. You might even hear the term “bail bond” used. Again, this is the same as bail.
What Is Bail?
Bail is an amount of money that you are allowed to pay in order to get out of jail until the time of your trial. The amount necessary is commensurate with the crime and your flight risk, and is set by the judge shortly after your arrest and after the arresting officer submits an affidavit of probable cause.
How Is Bail Set?
Bail is set in a number of ways, but it always represents a level of risk and severity of the crime.
- Misdemeanor: With a misdemeanor, chances are good that your bail will be under $3,000.
- Felony: With a felony charge, your bail will be higher, usually between $5,000 and $250,000.
- Capital Crimes: Capital crimes, like murder, carry the highest bail amounts and can cost in the millions. You may also be denied bail in these cases.
Note that in the case that an arrest warrant was issued for you, then the judge will have already set the amount of bail prior to your arrest.
When Can You Be Denied Bail?
In 99.9% of Texas court cases, you are legally entitled to bail. However, there are situations where that is not true, and where the judge may decide that bail will not be set. These include the following situations:
- You pose a serious flight risk.
- You have a significant criminal history.
- You are on probation or parole for another crime.
- You are charged with a capital crime.
How Can You Post Bail?
For most people, paying the full amount of bail set by the judge is out of the question. Most people simply don’t have an extra $10,000 or $25,000 in the bank. In these cases, you will work with a bail bondsman – a specialist who will accept a percentage of the bail and put the whole amount up for your release. The percentage charged is usually 10%, but, may differ depending on your criminal history, flight risk, and whether the bondsman feels that you are a significant risk or not. Also, some bondsman will allow you to enter into a payment plan if you cannot pay the full percentage.
What Happens If I Don’t Appear in Court?
If you are released on bail and fail to appear in court, you will forfeit all the money paid. An arrest warrant will also be issued.
What Happens If Bail is Too High?
If bail is set at an amount that you cannot afford, an attorney can hold a bond hearing to ask the court to lower the amount.
If you are facing criminal charges, you need the right representation. Call the Law Offices of Sharita Blacknall at 214-678-9111 today.