The Surety Bond Guide in Austin TX

Table of Contents

  • What is the Law on Surety Bonds
  • Why Do Surety Bonds Exist
  • Who Really Makes Money Off of Surety Bonds
  • A History of Surety Bonds in Austin
  • How Surety Bonds Work Surety Bonds Are The Most Popular Way to Get Out of Jail
  • The Ultimate Surety Bond Scam

What is the Law on Surety Bonds?

Under the Code of Criminal Procedure, Chapter 17 is the authority on Surety Bonds. Article 17.02 defines a “surety bond” as a contract between the arrestee and the surety. A magistrate judge may authorize the arrestee be released with a personal bond under Article 17.03. This is the most common way to get out of jail. Article 17.04 specifically sets out that no surety is required.

Article 17.033 clarifies what will happen in the case if there is no probable cause found by the magistrate with twenty four hours of arrest for a misdemeanor. It explicitly states that if the arrestee is unable to pay cash or surety bond, then he must be released on a personal bond. In addition, a judge must release a person under a person if he similarly cannot afford cash or surety for a felony if the judge has not found probable cause within forty eight hours.

Article 17.05 states that the jail can accept the surety bond. Article 17.06 states that corporations can be surety securing the bond obligation for the court. Article 17.07 specifies that the surety bond company shall file their power of attorney naming who is in charge of posting bonds for them in Austin. They are allowed to limit the scope of their authority as with any other power of attorney document. The law reiterates that any surety bonds posted by the bondsman are binding on the surety themselves. Rarely are there redundant provisions in the law, but they wanted to make it crystal clear this is a very serious legal matter.

Article 17.08 states the requirements of a surety bond. First, it must be made out to the State of Texas. Second, the arrestee and the surety must promise that the person accused will go to court to face the allegations. Third, it must state what they are being charged with, a misdemeanor or a felony. Fourth, the surety must sign the bond and jot down their address. Fifth, the law states that the bond must state the courthouse and the court date when the defendant must appear. It is nice to say that when the case is closed, either by conviction or dismissal, the surety is dissolved from their responsibilities. Lastly, the statute states that if the arrestee doesn’t show up to court, then the surety needs to pay for the sheriff’s and police officers the fair cost to re-arrest the delinquent defendant.

Article 17.09 protects a defendant in the course of their case from excessive bail. This is common among lawyers who advocate in court for decreasing bail for violent offenses. The main argument is that similar cases had lower bond amounts, or other cases were less serious and had lower bond amounts. Or that lowering the bond amount would still secure the defendant’s appearance in court. Or the arrestee is not a flight risk. And he is not dangerous to the community. The judge in the case is very powerful in this respect. Additional safety measures prevent a second bond amount to be required for one case. This makes sense because it would ride the line between cruel and unusual punishment even in the pretrial stage.

Article 17.10 lays out the requirements on who can be a surety. You must be an adult who has not been convicted of a misdemeanor involving moral turpitude or a felony. A crime of moral turpitude can be anything related to theft or fraud. It implies that someone is dishonest with money and can’t be trusted for important financial matters. Article 17.11 expands on what is required for a surety. It says that your assets must be worth at least twice the bond amount. And it says that you cannot write any additional bonds if you are in default with at least one bond. This is a very fair rule. A bank wouldn’t allow a borrower to take out another loan if they can’t pay the first mortgage. In the same line of reasoning, they are requiring the surety that they don’t owe the county any more before they take on more debt. Article 17.13 requires the sureties to take an oath promising that they can pay the bond amount from their own property if it comes down to it.

Article 17.151 is the defendant’s best friend. This guarantees them the right to get out of jail if the government is not ready to proceed to trial. The judge must first reduce the bond amount required. And if the person can’t afford that either by paying themselves or through a surety bond, then the judge must release them under a personal bond. This is very powerful indeed and reflects the power of the person’s right to a trial under the federal constitution. For a Class C Misdemeanor, the time limit is a week. For a Class B Misdemeanor, the time limit is half a month. For a Class A Misdemeanor, the time limit is a month. For a Felony, the time limit is three months. Of course, other offenses currently charged are taken into consideration and all pending charges must qualify for pretrial release.

Article 17.16 lets the surety off the hook if they get the defendant to a court or to the county jail. If the arrestee is in another county jail, then the surety must file an affidavit to the sheriff’s office and to the prosecutor’s office telling them the accused is in outside custody. However, detention by Immigration and Customs Enforcement does not qualify if the sole purpose is to decide whether the defendant is a lawful resident. Once the jail verifies this information, they must tell the judge, who in turn is required to issue an arrest warrant, commonly called a capias. However, the surety must pay for all fees associated with the transportation of the defendant back to the local county jail.

Article 17.19 also allows the surety to file for a warrant with the court. This is what allows bounty hunters to get people back to jail, something normally the only sheriff officers have the right to do. Citizen’s arrest is also a related topic that is making headlines, especially after the Ahmaud Arbery shooting by a former investigator for the district attorney’s office.

During magistration, the judge can set any conditions of the bond they see fit to protect the community and to ensure the defendant appears for court dates. If a condition is violated, Article 17.40 provides that the violation only needs to be proved by a preponderance of the evidence, or more likely than not. Once the judge finds the violation occurred, the surety bond will be revoked and an arrest warrant will be issued right away, most times for double the original bond amount. After the accused is back in jail, the surety is relinquished of any liability at that point. This is a sneaky way for them to charge the defendant’s family again for another surety bond all over again. Repeat customers are the dream of any business.

Why Do Surety Bonds Exist?

Surety bonds were started up in the west coast by mob bosses in the early 1900’s. These were tools used for people to return to work fast. This is still the case to this day.

During this era of exploring the western US, this was a very individualistic pursuit for many. And where they were working, they didn’t have family members or friends or anyone close around for that matter. If someone got arrested by the police, then they didn’t have anyone to lean on to help them pay the full bond amount. In addition, bond amounts started getting more expensive, out of reach for the normal working-class person. These two circumstances gave rise to the surety bond fee that people pay to get out of jail.

There were alternatives that could work equally as well. But this was a highly profitable business for those involved on the surety end. They weren’t gonna let anything stop them from going out of business. There were a few states that banned this business altogether because there was such a high risk of succumbing to corruption.

There were two events that spawned higher bond amounts. The first was defendants who were released on bond during the pretrial phase of their case. They committed serious crimes when they were out on bond. This made judges consider the safety of the community in the bond decision process. Furthermore, there was the perception during this time that drugs were bad — really bad. So in response, judges raised bond amounts for people accused of such possession charges. In combination, the result was high bond amounts.

Surety bond businesses were happy. Higher bond amounts meant they made more money. During this same time period, courts were funding their own departments to advocate for people’s releases for low-level offenses. The surety bond businesses wanted to put a stop to this activity. So they formed the American Bail Coalition.

This powerful group partnered up with the American Legislative Exchange Council, a very strong lobby group. Their goal was to eliminate the spread of pretrial services in America. This was successful. Most bondsmen operate individually. But for the most part, big surety bond businesses back them.

Surety bond businesses indirectly influence politicians who make decisions on minimizing the rules and regulations that apply to a bondsman. Of course, they want higher bond amounts too because that helps their bottom line. And they want to reduce pretrial service funding and make it more difficult for arrestees to qualify for a personal bond.

Who Really Makes Money Off of Surety Bonds?

Most people are in the pretrial phase of their case. These are people who have pled not guilty and many of those people will want to assert their constitutional right to request a jury trial by their peers. Yet most people can’t afford to pay the entire bond amount in cash. The bond system in Austin is complicated and there are many options for people to get out of jail along with pros and cons for each, but most people think they must pay a surety bond if they want to fight their case from the outside.

Traditional surety bond services are for car and home insurance. If something were to happen like a flood or hurricane, then the catastrophic event happened that is covered under your policy, and the surety bond business will pay for the damages and to fix your car or house. The surety bond business is the insurer and the first remedy.

In contrast, the surety bond service is backwards. When a family member co-signs for the surety bond for Johnny Smith who is in jail, they are promising they will pay for the entire bond amount if Johnny doesn’t show up to court. If Johnny gets re-arrested or shows back up to court again, then the bondsman can withdraw as their surety citing the reason that Johnny failed to meet his end of the bargain of the contract.

Now, if Johnny doesn’t show up to court, then the family member has to pay. The bond business will sue the family member in the civil court for the surety bond amount. This will cause the family’s credit score to suffer and is an incentive to pay back the bond agent. The bond agent is required to store money in a build-up fund, in the event that something like this happens.

If the family member is insolvent, then the bond agent has to pony up the money to the county. But the bondsman is the gatekeeper for who they let co-sign, and people are required to have collateral, good credit, or a good job to even qualify for a surety bond. Collateral is the most secure form of property protecting the financial liability of the bondsman.

The likelihood that a bondsman will deplete their build-up fund is very low. Because they make huge profits off of everyone that goes to court. Most bond business owners drive nice cars and live in nice houses, so the business is pretty stable.

Worst case scenario, if the bond agent loses their license and goes out of business, then, and only then, does the surety bond business backing the bondsman have to pay the county for the surety bond amount. This is a good business model to be the last one who has to pay.

A History of Surety Bonds in Austin

The main concern of the judge releasing an arrestee from jail is whether or not they will skip town and not come back to court to answer the charges against them. This is especially a serious concern the more serious the charges are.

Here is a brief overview of the history behind surety bonds.

At the very beginning of the criminal justice system in America, people who were arrested could ask friends and families to promise to pay a bond amount if they did not show up to court. But over time, there were fewer and fewer people who could get family and friends to act as their insurance policy if they didn’t go to court. This is understandable because this is a lot of personal liability for someone else’s case.

The rationale behind a bond amount and having people pay upfront for their freedom is negative motivation. If you don’t come back to court, then you lose the money you paid for your freedom. The hope is that most people will not want to lose their money, so they come back to court.

The pure form of a bond amount is a cash bond. This is the person (or their family or friends) paying the entire bond amount in full upfront before the person is released from jail. You don’t need a surety because your money is paid in full to the jail. There are no middlemen involved in this system. This is the cheapest way to get out of jail because if you go to all of your required court dates, you get the money back (minus a small administrative fee).

Most people can’t afford to pay thousands of dollars upfront unless they sell their home or valuable assets. So surety bonds are a mix between paying partial money upfront and signing the rights over your collateral so it can be sold to pay for your full bond amount if you just disappear and don’t show up for court. That hybrid model is called a surety bond. Surety bonds are exactly what they sound like. There is an insurance business that insures the full surety bond amount if the person doesn’t come back to court. Most surety bond companies charge between 10-20% of the surety bond amount and require family or friends to cosign or sign over collateral.

The caveat is the surety bond can meet their obligation to the court if they pay the full surety bond amount, which is a lot of money, or return the person to court. This is why there are so many TV shows on bounty hunters. These people return people to court. They go to the person’s house or place of work, and call the cops on them, or arrest them themselves and take them to jail.

The business model of the surety bond company could not work if they paid 10 times the amount they were paid for their service. If they had 1 person out of every 10 that did not show up to court, that would wipe out the profit for 10 other people they got out of jail. They maximize their profit this way, by bringing the person back to court. Most people on the run get arrested anyway on their own, so this satisfies the return to custody as well.

Judges set the surety bond amounts too high so that people couldn’t get out of jail. This was a form of financial oppression for the poor. So people protested. Wouldn’t most people that were arrested come back to court on their own anyways? This is exactly what got written into the law in 1966. The Bail Reform Act that passed that was a big step in the right direction. “Any person charged with an offense …. shall …. be ordered released pending trial on his personal recognizance or upon the execution of an unsecured appearance bond in an amount specified by the judicial officer, unless the officer determines, in the exercise of his discretion, that such a release will not reasonably assure the appearance of the person as required.” But it still allowed for the judge to set cash bond or surety bond to be required as a condition of release.

In the 70’s and 80’s, people were scared in their communities due to the increasing violence that was occurring. The Bail Reform Act of 1984 let the court use flight risk or public safety risk as a reason to keep someone in jail. This is still the system that is used today in Austin. Judges denying people’s release on a Personal Bond due to being a flight risk or a public safety risk. And they sit in jail because they can’t afford a cash bond or surety bond. But things have improved in 2020 because Austin Pretrial Services is now interviewing people with a Financial Workup that the judge can see and take into consideration when setting their surety bond amount. So if they do not qualify for a Personal Bond, then they can still afford to get out of jail.

How Surety Bonds Work

There are different ways to get released from jail after being arrested. When it comes to Austin bonds, a surety bond is one of these options. With a surety bond, the surety company secures the bond amount between the arrestee and the Austin Court. The bondsman is the middle man and will charge a percentage of the surety bond amount that must be secured before release. If the arrestee doesn’t show up to court and the bondsman doesn’t pay the bond amount either, then the surety bond company is liable for the full bond amount.

Surety bonds are legally binding contracts, essentially insurance policies, among the arrestee, the court, the bondsman, and the surety bond company. If a defendant skips court and the bondsman neglects to pay the bail amount, the state can go to the surety bond company to get what it is owed. In Austin, bondsman can’t legally write bonds unless they have a contract with a surety bond company. In exchange for a contract, the surety bond company charges the bondsman 10 percent on each. So for every $5,000 bond, the bondsman gets $500 and gives $50 to the surety bond company.

If a court date is missed, Austin bondsman will try to track down defendants before paying the bond amount to the court. The court can give them time to do this. In Texas, bondsman can hire bounty hunters to track down the delinquent arrestee. Bounty hunters get paid a percentage of the bond amount that otherwise would have to be paid to the courts.

Surety bonds disproportionately discriminate against minority groups and people in poverty. These two groups are historically disenfranchised, and the surety bond is no exception. Minority groups are targeted by police and as a result, are arrested more commonly than their American counterparts. The wealth gap is exposed especially when someone is incarcerated. Their family members can either post their surety bond amount or they are unable to. Families that can post their loved one out of jail increase the chances that their loved one can beat their charge or get a much better result drastically.

Unfortunately, some people’s families can’t scrape together the money to get them out on a surety bond. The result is people take plea deals to get out. The choice between freedom and fighting their case becomes a hard-pressed choice for most of those who are incarcerated. The willpower to fight their case diminishes quickly. The only thing on their mind is just to get out of jail as quickly as possible. By any means necessary. People stop thinking clearly about their long term consequences and how their future might be negatively impacted by a criminal conviction. They only see short term solutions. Unfortunately, most people who can’t afford a surety bond plead guilty to get the time already served in jail as punishment.

Surety Bonds Are The Most Popular Way to Get Out of Jail

This is made prevalent by movies and even passed as common knowledge. When people are in fear, they are more inclined to view solutions as binary. Black and white. This is easier for the brain to process fight or flight situations into choosing one option over another. Stay in jail or pay a surety bond for freedom.

Surety bonds play on that perception that surety bonds are the only way to get out of jail. Rarely do these insurance agents tell their customers who are friends and family of the person in jail that they have options, including more cost effective ways to get out of jail, including verifying their loved one’s information to Pretrial Services to facilitate an approved bond so they can get out for free. This is a paid service by the county, so why not take advantage of it?

Additional cheap ways to get out of jail is to post a cash bond. It’s simple. You go to court, you get your money back. You skip court, the county keeps your money. Obviously, this incentivizes people to show up to court for minor charges where their money is more important than the possible punishment, which can be very low.

The last cost-effective way to get out of jail is to hire an attorney. If you get arrested and accused of a crime, most people would hire counsel to represent them. Everyone knows if they get injured, they go to a doctor. And if they want to get out of jail, they should go to a surety bond. And if someone gets arrested, they should go to a lawyer.

In Austin, there is a unique mix of the last of these two. An attorney can both help you get out of jail AND help you with your case. The reason this is cost-efficient is the lawyer applies the amount you would have paid to a surety bond towards your legal defense. For a DWI, the surety bond amount could be $500, and if you pay them, your money’s gone the moment you step outside of the jail doors. But if you pay a lawyer, that $500 will get you out of jail too, and also be applied towards your legal fee. If they charge you $3500 to represent you, then you just paid 15% of your entire fee. This saves you money. The only downside is you picked counsel based on a rushed decision process. The lawyer who helps you avoid paying a surety bond might not be the best attorney for your defense in court. But you are not stuck with a lawyer if you find a more qualified one. All you have to do is file a motion to substitute counsel and all is well.

In conclusion, there are many alternative ways of getting out of jail without using a surety bond. The top two ways are to hire a lawyer or to pay a cash bond.

The Ultimate Austin Surety Bond Scam

You may think getting out of jail with a surety bond is the way to go. Pay a percentage of the bail bond amount, and that’s all you have to worry about. Unfortunately, that isn’t the end of the story. Not only can a surety bond from an Austin bondsman cost 10-15% of your bond amount, but there is also a $60 processing fee in addition to the premium. There are some other potential fees that you should be aware of before you make the decision to get released on a surety bond.

Something to keep in mind is that a surety company is a business. While their goal, like most businesses, is to make money; they also have to pay their employees, rent and utility bills, and advertising costs. They have to pay fees to get licensed and fees to insurers to back their business. It’s highly doubtful that the company you get your surety bond through is going to eat these expenses. What they will do, however, is pass them along to their clients.

Before you get scammed by a surety bond company, find out if the following additional fees will be tacked on after you pay the premium of a surety bond. Some possible fees include a travel fee (depending on the time of night they have to come to the jail), a credit card processing fee (which could be very high depending on the premium), or a co-signer fee (if you want to change the co-signer while you are out on a surety bond).

If someone posted the surety bond for you, then for whatever reason they wanted to back out, that could result in a cancellation fee. If your surety bond company needs to go to court for you for some reason, expect a fee for that too. If you are a higher risk client, you may have to check in with the surety bond company, and it’s safe to say that probably won’t come for free. And if you don’t come back to court, your surety bond company will do what they need to do to find you, then charge you for it afterward.

An alternative way of getting released from jail is through a lawyer. If you can’t get out on a personal bond (the free way) on your own, an attorney can help you get one. This is something to think about before you decide to get a surety bond. A lawyer won’t charge you the definite $60 processing fee that a surety bond company will charge. And a lot of the times, the fees that you pay a lawyer to help you get released can be carried over to the fees they charge to represent you. And this representation is a must when it comes to your criminal case.

If calling a surety bond company to help you get released from jail is still an option you want to pursue, make sure you do your due diligence and ask about all of the fees associated with a surety bond before you sign a contract. Being arrested is hard enough as it is, you don’t want to get tricked by a surety bond company to make it even worse.

The Austin Bail Bonds Guide

Table of Contents

  • What is an Austin Bail Bond
  • Three Ways to Satisfy an Austin Bail Bond
  • How to Get Someone Out of Jail with an Austin Bail Bond
  • Austin Pretrial Services Provides Better Alternative to Bail Bonds
  • Free Pretrial Release Over Paying an Austin Bail Bondsman
  • Why Pay for an Austin Bail Bondsman When You Can Get Out for Free
  • Austin Tries to Prevent Getting Sued for Oppressive Bail Bonds
  • Who Doesn’t Qualify for a Personal Bond

What is an Austin Bail Bond?

A bond is the amount of money set by the judge at the jail to make sure they will show up to court. The Austin bail bond amount is supposed to act as a security deposit so that people fear losing it enough so that they are motivated to go to court. Currently, in 2020, the judges at the jail go through this process to set an Austin bail bond amount.

Here is the arrest timeline to give an overview of the Austin bail bond process. After someone is arrested, the police officer drives your loved one down to the Downtown jail, officially called the jail. The booking room in the Downtown jail is called Central Booking. This is where they go first to get booked in. The booking process includes getting their mugshot taken by the Sheriff’s guards and fingerprinting for the Texas Department of Public Safety arrest records. In addition, they get their belongings inventoried and they get a chance to jot down three phone numbers from their cell phone. Soon after this booking process is complete, your loved one is allowed to use a free phone in the Downtown jail to make a call to you. If you don’t pick up, they will be allowed to use another paid phone to make a call to you. You won’t know that they are calling you, just an automated message that you are receiving a phone call from an inmate from the jail.

About 2 hours after they arrive at the jail, Pretrial Services, an office with the Probation Department, will come to interview your loved one for a financial workup and for a personal bond, one of the three ways to satisfy an Austin bail bond. The purpose of a financial workup is to set a bond that correlates with your income level. This way, it equalizes the Austin bail bond amount among the rich, the poor, and anyone in between. The rationale behind this approach is that the Austin bail bond amount is supposed to incentivize arrestees to come back to court. And that it balances them coming back to court, but also is something they can afford to pay to get out of jail.

The financial worksheet is based on the following information:

Financial Information
Employer:
Position/How Long:

Income Information
Your Salary:
Spouse’s Salary:
SSI/SSDI:
TANF:
Child Support:
Social Security Check:
Other Government Check:
Other Monthly Income:
Savings/401K Balance:
TOTAL MONTHLY INCOME:

Necessary Monthly Living Expenses
Rent/Mortgage Payment:
Utilities (gas, electric, etc.):
Transportation:
Make/Model/Year:
Clothes/Food:
Day Care/Child Care:
Medical Expenses:
Court-Ordered Monies:
Child Support:
TOTAL MONTHLY EXPENSES:

Non-Exempt Asset Information
Cash on Hand (self and spouse):
Amount in Checking Account:
Value of Real Property (land):
Value of Stocks, Bonds, Investments, Other Assets:
TOTAL NONEXEMPT ASSETS:

What is the most money you could reasonably pay to get out of jail within 24 hours after your arrest, including any contributions from family and friends?

This financial workup must be provided to the judge at the jail before the magistration hearing can take place. Magistration is the hearing where the judge brings your loved one along with up to twenty other people and reads them their charge and their Austin bail bond amount and the different ways to satisfy the Austin bail bond amount. They will also explain the right to an attorney and that they will get a court-appointed lawyer if they can’t afford one.

Three Ways to Satisfy an Austin Bail Bond

If your loved one got arrested, you probably feel a lot of anxiety because you feel helpless, like there is nothing you can do to help them get out of jail.

But the good news is you can help your loved one get out of jail by helping them get an Austin Bail Bond set as quickly as possible.

There are three ways to satisfy this bond amount:

PERSONAL BOND

The first way to satisfy an Austin Bail Bond is with a Personal Bond. For people with little to no criminal history, you may qualify for a personal bond, which is how to get out of jail sooner by promising to the court you will show up for all your court dates and follow all conditions set by a judge.

Only Pretrial Services or an Attorney may submit a request for release on personal bond to a judge. And only a judge can approve release on a personal bond. Without a lawyer, this process can take up to 2 days or never. With a lawyer, we speed this process up to a matter of hours. It’s because we can go talk directly to the judge and present the personal bond to them any day of the week, any time of day.

This is the only way to satisfy an Austin Bail Bond where you also get a lawyer. Two birds. One stone.

BAIL BONDSMAN

The second way to satisfy a Bail Bond is with an Austin Bail Bondsman. An Austin Bail Bondsman will require you to sign over your land and property to them in case you don’t show up to court because they will have to pay your full bail bond.

This typically costs between $500-$1000 for common charges like DWI or Family Violence.

Once you get out of jail, you never get this money back. And it does not get applied towards the cost of a lawyer.

PAY IT IN FULL

The third way to satisfy a Bail Bond is with a Cash Bond. You always have the option to pay the full bail bond amount in person at the front desk of the jail by cash or money order. When their case is completely over, the money will be returned to them, regardless of who paid it.

How to Get Someone Out of Jail with an Austin Bail Bond

“Hello, you have a collect call from an inmate at the jail. To accept the charges…”

1 in 200 people get arrested in Austin, so you will receive at least one of these calls from a family member or a friend. No one thinks this will happen to them until it actually happens to them. So having a backup phone number in case this happens is just smart. Saving our phone number in your phone is free. Best case scenario, you will never need it. But if you do, you already have a solution for how your family or friend can get out of jail. We are on call 24 hours a day at our dedicated Jail Release number 512-222-8722.

But it is also important to know what to do when a loved one is arrested and how to satisfy an Austin Bail Bond to get them out of the jail.

Step 1: Accept the Call

You want to pick up the phone call even if you don’t know who it is because it could be your family member or your friend. Their first few phone calls are free but their next phone calls will be collect calls paid by you.

It’s important to tell them to discuss only what is needed to get out of the jail or who to call to help them satisfy an Austin Bail Bond. The phone call is recorded by the Jail and can be listened to by the prosecutor later on. For a DWI, this is not the time to ask them how much they drank or what they did to get pulled over or how they did on field sobriety tests.

Ask them if they’ve seen the judge yet, and what their Bail Bond is set at. The Sheriff’s Office controls the jail and the booking information. This is the link to search their bond amount and their release status.

Step 2: Call a Lawyer or Austin Bail Bondsman

There are three options to satisfy a Bail Bond.

If you want to pay the Bail Bond in full. Go to the jail’s bonding office located at the Blackwell Thurman Criminal Justice Center 509 W 11th St. They are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. You can walk right up between 8am-12am.

But in the middle of the night between 12am-8am, you have to go to the jail otherwise known as the jail located at 500 W 10th St, and ring the buzzer to let the guards know you want to pay your loved one’s Austin Bail Bond in cash. This option is risky because this cash is their security for showing up for court. If they don’t show up, your money’s gone and Travis County gets to keep your money. But if they show up to court like they’re supposed to and they finish their case by dismissal or punishment, you get your money back minus a $50 administration fee.

The second option to satisfy a Bail Bond is to pay an Austin Bail Bondsman about 10-15% of the Bail Bond. This is bond insurance. Once your loved one gets out of jail, the Bail Bondsman has earned their money and performed the service you hired them to do.

The third option to satisfy an Austin Bail Bond is with a Personal Bond. This can be performed by the Pretrial Services staff or can be expedited by a Lawyer. The Pretrial Services Department will talk to a judge about your release, but there are very stringent criteria to be approved for a Personal Bond through them.

You must live in Austin. You must have family ties who also live in town. You must have a steady job locally as well. And you must not have any pending charges against you. In 2020, Pretrial Services was granted authorization for the automatic release of people for certain types of cases, for example, a person’s first DWI or any non-violent offenses. But this does not apply to anyone who has a second DWI or any violent offenses like Assault Family Violence or Harassment. In addition, during the coronavirus crisis, the Texas governor set an executive order banning anyone who has previously been convicted of an assault case or currently has a pending assault case from being disqualified from being released on a Personal Bond.

a Lawyer is a great remedy for things like this when the Jail doesn’t automatically release your loved one. We are the better alternative to an Austin Bail Bondsman. We charge the same amount as an Austin Bail Bondsman does. But we don’t require you to co-sign.

In addition, we work with the judges day in and day out. There are 15 judges who work at the jail. We have gotten our clients out of jail with every single one of those 15 judges. Normally, your loved one has to wait around for the jail guards to pull them along with 20 other people to see the judge at the jail at the same time to get their charge and bond amount read to them. During this process, the judge at the jail only talks at them and doesn’t give your loved one a chance to tell their side of the story. However, once we’re hired to get your loved one out, we go see the judge directly to tell your loved one’s side of the story and advocate their release.

Step 3: Wait for Release

After their release gets posted by an Austin Bail Bondsman or a Lawyer, the jail takes between 2-6 hours to process their release. The reason it takes so long is because the Jail has many tasks they must handle, from booking someone in, to escorting someone from their jail cell to an attorney visitation room, to grabbing their belongings for their release. They will have an opportunity to call you from a free phone in the lobby if they don’t have their cell phone when they get out.

The lobby number will be 512-854-0000.

The parking right next to the jail is paid parking Monday to Sunday from 8am-6pm.

500 W 10th St

But on Saturday and Sunday, it is rarely enforced. Once your loved one gets out, the jail will tell them the address of the Tow Truck Place where they towed their car.

Austin Pretrial Services Provides Better Alternative to Bail Bonds

Getting arrested can feel like the end of the world. Instead of focusing on being arrested, once an Austin bail bond has been set, the focus should turn to getting out, getting back to normal, and fighting the charge against you. There are options to get released, such as a personal bond, cash bond, or surety bond. Austin Pretrial Services will help you get a personal bond, and that is a much better alternative than paying a bail bonding company.

A personal bond is the way to get released from jail for free. A surety bond requires a percentage of the bail bond be paid prior to release. This may seem like a no-brainer, but of course, the free way is always better than having to pay! No matter how someone gets released from jail, he or she is required to come back to court, and not having to pay an Austin bail bond will make life that much easier.

Between 1990 and 2004, a study of felony defendants in seventy-five of the largest counties in the United States showed that higher percentages of people were released faster through non-financial ways over their financial counterparts. This showed true whether it took a day, a week, or a month to get released. This is another potential benefit of being granted a personal bond. While there is no guarantee of how quickly someone will get released, Pretrial Services has usually finished their investigations as to whether a person qualifies for a personal bond before an arrestee even sees a judge to find out their bail bond amount. Once magistration is over, Pretrial Services is able to process these bonds right away, whereas the calls to a bail bondsman wouldn’t even start until now. You can’t call a bail bondsman to help pay your bail until you know what it is first.

Pretrial Services is a neutral party in the criminal justice system. They care about helping you get out of jail, and they care about making sure you come back to court. They don’t want to see you forfeit your Austin bail bond by missing a court date. There are conditions and services through Pretrial Services that help you stay on top of your responsibilities. Unlike a bail bonding company, who has skin in the game and only cares about the financial aspect of a bail bond, Pretrial Services’ mission is one of positivity and balance per their statement of purpose. Knowing that their goal to “uphold the constitutional principles of the presumption of innocence and the right against excessive bail for pretrial defendants” should only magnify how they provide the better alternative to a surety bond.

Free Pretrial Release Over Paying an Austin Bail Bondsman

If you have never been arrested before in Austin, it is rare that you have the knowledge you need to understand the options you have to get released. After you have been booked into jail, there may be jail or court staff that explain these ways. If not, once you are taken to see the magistrate judge, he or she will tell you what you are being charged with, let you know your bond amount, and explain the ways you can be released. At that point, you will probably have already been interviewed by a Pretrial Services officer and even had the opportunity to make a phone call or two. It is a scary time, and to already have the facts on how to get released will put you at an advantage to make the best decision for your situation.

There are technically four ways to get released from jail once a bail bond has been set by a judge. The bond amount is set based on the offense that you have been charged with and your financial ability to realistically pay that amount. The first option to get released from jail is to pay the full amount of the bail bond which is known as a cash bond. That will release you to come back to court to take care of your case. Something to also keep in mind is that misdemeanor cases can take six months to a year to be finalized. As long as you make every single court appearance, the cash bond you paid to get released will be given back to you. If you miss a court date, a bond forfeiture warrant will be issued for your arrest and you will lose all of the money you paid to get released. This cash bond is insurance or surety that you will come back to all of your court dates.

Another way to get released after being arrested is by being granted a personal bond. As mentioned above, a Pretrial Services officer will interview you to see if you qualify for this type of release. A personal bond is an agreement or promise, you make with the court to return to all of your court dates. If granted, you will not have to pay your bail bond, just a small administrative fee to Pretrial Services. After you have been interviewed, your loved ones can call Pretrial Services to see if you qualify for this bond, which is very helpful in making a decision. This is the free way to get released and a very popular choice. Like a cash bond though, if you miss a court date, you will be issued a bond forfeiture warrant for your arrest.

The third way to get released is with the help of a lawyer. With new policies that have been rolled out through Travis County Pretrial Services, there are many situations where personal bonds will be granted automatically and you won’t have to pay your bail bond. Sometimes, however, there may be situations where this is not the case. An attorney can help you get a personal bond that you might not qualify for otherwise. An attorney can also help you get released a little quicker by seeing the judge before you do. Your attorney can waive your magistration, speeding up the process to get out, which can be a lengthy one. Keep in mind you will need an attorney to help you with your case, and some might put the release costs they charge towards their overall fees. It might be beneficial to make those early phone calls to an attorney or have your family member do that for you. Getting quotes and asking about representation are important parts of these conversations as well.

The last way to get released from jail is with a surety bond through a bail bonding business. These businesses will charge you a percentage of your bail bond (10%-30% depending on the business – calling a few to get quotes is also a good idea). Once you pay them, they put up your bail bond to the court and you can get released. This is not a faster way to get released. You still need to see the judge first, who will give you your bond amount. Then you can start calling bail bonding businesses. Depending on the business, and how fast you or your loved one can pay them, will affect how long it will take to get released. And if you miss a court date on a surety bond release through a bail bondsman, a bond forfeiture warrant will be issued for your arrest, and you run the risk of having your bond revoked by the business.

The decision that you make to get released from jail will be between you and your family. Having all of the facts can help you make the best choice for your particular situation. Unfortunately, when you are arrested, you and your loved ones can feel like you are in the dark. Having everyone informed about the options for release can make it all a little bit easier.

Why Pay for an Austin Bail Bondsman When You Can Get Out for Free?

People who are arrested have a few different ways they can get released once their bail bond is set so they can get back to their lives as quickly as possible. Paying the full amount of the bail bond, also known as a cash bond, is one way to get released. Another way is called a personal bond, which is the free way to get released. And lastly, a bail bondsman can charge a percentage of the bail bond amount, releasing someone on a surety bond. This begs the question, why pay for an Austin bail bondsman when you can get out for free?

It is common knowledge that paying a bail bondsman is the way to get out of jail. Even if you have no experience with being arrested, this is something you probably already know. In fact, the rest of Texas uses bail bonding businesses as the traditional way to get out of jail. The average person wouldn’t know that they can get out of jail for free with a personal bond. With all of the costs that come with being arrested and going to court, not having to pay the bail bond amount can help significantly during a difficult and stressful time.

People are kept in the dark as they are getting arrested, being booked into jail and waiting to see a judge. Sometimes a person doesn’t even know what they got arrested for until the judge tells them hours after they have been booked into jail. However, a Pretrial Services officer will usually be the first person who will actually give any kind of explanation on the bail bond and release process. These are the people who come to talk to people shortly after they have been booked in, even before they go in front of a judge. They are the ones who should explain more about what is happening and the ways to get released. They want to help people get out for free so they don’t have to pay their bail bond amount.

In the past, the Pretrial Services officer couldn’t give someone a definitive answer of being granted a personal bond because an investigation needed to take place first. Now, with Go Bonds, more people qualify, and they don’t have to pay their bail bond to get released. This is much easier for Pretrial to give people a confident answer they are going to automatically get out for free. Family members can also call Pretrial to check on the status of a personal bond. It is in someone’s best interest to find that out before signing a contract and paying the 10-30% of the bail bond to a bail bondsman.

It would benefit people who get booked into jail to have this information right away. Just as much as the arrestees are in the dark about the bail bonds process, their families are as well. Usually, it’s the loved ones on the outside who have to help their family member get released. Maybe a pamphlet for the different ways to get out of jail would be useful for people. People get this information during magistration, but they should get this information right when they are booked in. Because that is when they get their free phone calls and collect calls, so why wouldn’t they already be telling their family about the different options on getting out of jail?

The sheriff’s office has a webpage, but it doesn’t help people decide which option to choose. It doesn’t go into detail about the different ways to get released. Maybe if a video was included on the website explaining these ways, that would help everyone involved in this situation to be more informed about the best option. For most people, the free way, through a personal bond would be the first choice. Not everyone will qualify for a personal bond though, so the next best option is paying the entire bail bond amount through a cash bond, especially if someone can afford to do so. This money will be returned once the case is over and all court appearances have been attended. And the last resort should be going through a bail bondsman. This is money that will never be seen again, and hiring one doesn’t have any other real benefits in the bail bonding process.

Austin Tries to Prevent Getting Sued for Oppressive Bail Bonds

If you take a look at our country’s bail bond system, Austin specifically, there is something very clear – it doesn’t work. It all too often punishes technically innocent people who can’t afford to pay a bond amount, keeping them in jail to wait out their case, or worse, forcing them to plead guilty to something they didn’t do. Bail amounts should be based on two things, the alleged crime and the person’s ability to pay a reasonable amount to get released. Keeping a person in jail for a non-violent misdemeanor because they can’t afford to pay their bond means the risk of mental health issues, job loss, or unfortunately in some cases, loss of life.

For years, Harris County has been litigating bail bond reform, finding that the poorer population charged with misdemeanors were being held in jail because they couldn’t make bond. Austin is less than 3 hours away from Harris County. A pending multi-million dollar lawsuit filed by plaintiffs who spent multiple days in jail for petty offenses has sparked a change in Harris County. It has created a new policy of automatic release for the majority of defendants accused of these low-level crimes, with no money involved. Other cities across the nation, including Austin, are following suit, deeming oppressive bail bonds to be unconstitutional. Rather than just setting a bond amount, the courts are using risk assessments to determine the public’s safety along with the likelihood of someone returning to court to determine release. What a defendant can reasonably afford to pay is also a deciding factor when it comes to release.

Austin is not far behind in the bail bond reform movement. Austin bail bonds, like so many other cities, have not been on the fair side of the spectrum, with bond amounts set so high that even paying a bail bondsman would be a financial hardship, if not an impossibility. In light of the lawsuit in Harris County, Austin has changed its policy in determining bond amounts to prevent their county from an eventual lawsuit for their own oppressive bail bonds.

Bail bonds in Austin are now being determined by the financial information obtained from Pretrial Services at the time of arrest. Austin bail bond amounts are set based on this information as well as the level of the alleged crime. Pretrial Services in Austin have even gone a step further with pre-approved personal recognizance bonds for certain Class A and B Misdemeanors that wouldn’t require an attorney’s assistance or bail bonding business for a person (regardless of financial means) to get released.

Austin’s bail bond modifications are trying to catch up with the parts of the country that seem to be making positive changes when it comes to bail bond reform. While it is likely they are doing this because they do not want a lawsuit in their future, hopefully, it also is reassurance that they want to be part of a bail system that treats all people accused of a low level crime fairly. Reasonable bail bonds give people the chance to still live their lives while ensuring them their constitutional right for them to fight their case.

Who Doesn’t Qualify for a Personal Bond

Pretrial Services interviews every eligible person who gets arrested and booked into jail to determine if he or she qualifies for a personal recognizance bond. A personal bond is one of the ways someone can get released after an arrest. If a person qualifies for a personal bond, they do not have to hire an Austin bail bondsman to get them out. A personal bond release is an agreement with the court that says as long as the arrestee shows up for every single court date, he or she will not have to pay the bail bond. It is the free way to get released (minus a small administrative fee) and the best option for most people, especially those who do not have the means to pay their bail bond.

Up until recent bail bond reforms, a personal bond was not a guarantee, even for minor offenses. It was based on a full investigation that included proof of a steady address from reliable references. Now if someone is booked into jail for a non-violent Class A or Class B Misdemeanor, there is a much higher likelihood of being granted a personal bond automatically, regardless of the above-mentioned factors. These pre-approved personal bonds are called Go Bonds. They are based on the charge – first time DWI, Driving Without a Valid License, and Possession of Marijuana to name a few. A criminal history background check is still required for this type of personal bond, but as long as that does not present any issues, release is automatically granted.

There are some reasons a personal bond would be taken out of the Go Bond distinction, and a full investigation by Pretrial Services would be required. Some other ways in which someone would not automatically qualify for a personal bond is by being on probation or parole, having an ICE (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement) or out-of-county hold, having a pending case, or an assault charge. There is also an issue when it comes to a second DWI charge with a prior conviction within five years. These are also not distinguished as Go Bonds, but with a full investigation, they could still be considered for a judge’s approval for a personal bond. If someone is not eligible for a personal bond, they need to hire an Austin bail bondsman to get out of jail.

Normally, a violent offense would require a full investigation by Pretrial Services, and depending on the charge and other mitigating factors, a personal bond could be considered. On the standing order from Governor Abbot signed on March 13th, 2020, persons charged with a violent offense are currently not eligible for a personal bond. Along with that, persons with a violent charge conviction in their history are also not eligible for a personal bond for any offense for which they have been arrested (non-violent or violent). Again, these would disqualify the person for a personal bond, and would require them to hire an Austin bail bondsman.

Per Article 17.03 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, “that no authority should release on personal bond any person previously convicted of a crime that involves physical violence or the threat of physical violence, or any person currently arrested for such a crime that is supported by probable cause.” The only means of release at this point would be to hire an attorney, hire an Austin bail bondsman or pay the full amount of the bail bond.

The new system for personal bonds is a step in the right direction in helping people get released from jail for free to fight their case. This is a big step from the traditional Austin bail bondsman that dominates the bail bond system throughout TX. Although not everyone qualifies for a personal bond, it is much easier to receive one than ever before, and hopefully, this will continue to evolve into helping even more people get released from jail based on their promise to come back to court.

Austin Bail Bond Conditions Explained

Table of Contents

  • Common Austin Bail Bond Conditions
  • An EPO Condition of Austin Bail Bonds
  • What Happens If You Violate a Condition of Your Bail Bond?
  • A Break Down of Bail Bond Forfeitures

Common Austin Bail Bond Conditions

Getting arrested is a confusing and scary time. The number one focus after an arrest is getting released. There are three different ways to post bail. A cash bond means to pay the whole bail amount to get released. A bail bond means paying a percentage of the bail amount to a bail bondsman to get released. And lastly, a personal bond is the free way to get released but is at the discretion of the judge at the jail. For most people, this is the ideal way to get out of jail, but there are some cases where a bail bond is the better solution.

While a recognizance bond is very appealing as opposed to paying any part of bail, posting a bail bond comes with fewer conditions than a PR bond. During magistration, an arrestee is given information from a judge about his or her charge and the bail amount. If the judge doesn’t say there are any conditions with bail, depending on the charge, it might make more sense to post a bail bond rather than try to get released on a personal bond. Judges tend to order more conditions when a recognizance bond is concerned, and there are a lot of ways a person can mess up.

For most people, a recognizance bond is the preferred method of getting out of jail, but here are the worst-case scenarios that a judge might tack on as a condition of your PR bond without your consent. For substance-abuse related cases, a counseling assessment will more than likely be ordered. This would require a visit to TCCES (Travis County Counseling and Education Services), where they will conduct an evaluation to see what classes they recommend an arrestee take. While these classes are a “recommendation”, a closer look at the personal bond condition order form states that following these recommendations are part of said order. And also be prepared to pay $55 for the assessment and any fees associated with the recommended classes.

Another condition that will be ordered for a felony drug possession charge is a Drug Court screening. Travis County has an intensive program that someone could potentially qualify for depending on criminal history and the admission of a drug problem. Successful completion of this program means a dismissal of the case. While this sounds great, it is an extremely rigorous program that will last at least a year, and it is very difficult to be accepted into. Any mess-ups mean an extension, and an approval from both the prosecutor and the judge needs to happen before someone can even enter the program.

Violence related cases have their own set of conditions that could be ordered if someone elects to get released on a personal bond rather than going through a bail bonding company. Another TCCES evaluation for counseling will more than likely be ordered in addition to a potential anger management class. Safety-related conditions include no contact with the complaining witness (victim), a 200-yard stay away from them, or an address that the defendant needs to stay away from.

Supervision could be another condition that is ordered via a recognizance bond. A supervision condition means that the arrestee must report to a Pretrial Services Officer for an office visit at least once a month. Having a job is a requirement, and proof of employment needs to be provided. Plus any out of state travel must be approved by the judge. This is a condition that can be ordered for any kind of offense, violent or non-violent. If mental health issues have been diagnosed and documented in the past, there is a unit that is devoted entirely to mental health supervision, if someone were to qualify.

More at-risk conditions require the use of surveillance devices to be ordered upon release. A condition called EM (electronic monitoring), also known as house arrest, would require the defendant to stay at home for the duration of their case. These defendants have to report to Pretrial much more frequently than supervision clients, and they cannot leave their house unless their officer gives them permission. An approved work schedule is established, but beyond that, only the Pretrial Officer can decide when and where they travel to.

Another monitoring condition that could be ordered is a GPS (global position system) device. While this allows arrestees to move about freely while out on bail, it is essentially a tracking device. A Pretrial Officer will monitor every move they make, alerting the court if the defendant travels anywhere they are not supposed to be or if they go to a particular place that might raise suspicions of potential criminal activity.

Both EM and GPS could be ordered to be installed in jail. That means that even if bail has been posted, a defendant cannot get released until they have one of these ankle monitors attached to their person first. A stable, verified address is required for both, and an initial payment for the GPS must be made as well. While EM is free to have, a GPS monitor will cost about $300 a month.

A DWI charge can potentially come with its own set of conditions. If someone has been convicted of a DWI in the past, no matter how much time has gone by, an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) will be ordered as a condition of release. This is required by law and is something that will be enforced no matter how a person gets released from jail. The arrestee must pay to install a device on their car within twenty-one days of release. They will have to blow into the device to start the car and as they are driving. It costs about $100 a month to have this device, and the defendant must report to Pretrial and follow the rules of the program.

Other conditions that might be added on with a PR bond release are random urinalysis with supervision, no driving without a valid license, or a curfew. Also if people get arrested together for the same charge, no contact with co-defendants could be ordered. If someone gets out of jail on a personal bond and doesn’t like the conditions that it comes with, then they can change to a bail bond right away to avoid all of the conditions that are not on the order of commitment. An order of commitment is the official paperwork of the magistration process. It has the offense charged, the bail amount and any conditions, and whether someone requests a court-appointed attorney or will retain their own.

But if an arrestee violates their recognizance bond conditions and gets their first bond revoked, then the additional conditions will be added on top of the new order of commitment on the second bond. And there are no ways around these new conditions. Here are some example of situations where someone might consider getting out with a bail bond rather than a PR bond.

With an assault family violence charge, there may be no conditions ordered with a bail bond release. But a judge granting a personal bond might feel safer signing a bond and electing to add a no contact or 200-yard stay away as a condition. What happens when that address is the defendant’s home? Where do they live once they get released from jail? And the reality of not contacting this other person can be so difficult that it almost makes it impossible.

A drug possession charge with random urinalysis (UA) as a PR bond can be extremely inconvenient. Not only does it come with being supervised and having to report to Pretrial monthly, it means that whenever the officer calls someone to go for a UA, they must go. There will be a call or email in the morning from the officer, and the client will be expected to show up at some point that day to provide a sample. If they fail to appear, it can count as a violation, and the judge can decide to revoke their recognizance bond.

A DWI charge for someone who hasn’t been convicted of one shouldn’t require many conditions. But if there is an accident or high BAC, or a young person is in their early 20’s, think again. If these are the circumstances associated with getting a PR bond release, a judge might feel safer ordering an IID as a condition. Although for DWI’s, sometimes the prosecutors will file a motion to add IID as a condition under community safety reasons as well.

The bond conditions that are ordered, for the most part, are to last the entirety of a person’s case. There are pros and cons to both personal and bail bonds as ways to get released from jail. A recognizance bond is free, while a bail bond will cost money. Sometimes getting released on a PR bond is the only option because a bail bond is too expensive. With that though, there could be certain conditions that are added to a PR bond that must be followed as long as the case is pending. Depending on the conditions someone could potentially be facing, it might make more sense to opt to pay the percentage of the bail amount to have the potential freedoms that come along with the price of a bail bond.

An EPO Condition of Austin Bail Bonds

A familiar term in the language of criminal justice, especially when it comes to matters of violence are the words ‘restraining order’. You probably have heard of this and know that it is a court order meant to protect a person or entity from being harmed by another person. If you are arrested and accused of family violence, there is a very high chance that a condition of your Austin bail bond release will be an EPO, or an Emergency Protection Order.

‘Family’ is very broadly defined in an EPO. An EPO can be issued in an alleged family violence charge where the two parties aren’t even related. It can apply to former spouses, biological parents of the same child, or foster parents. It can be issued if the two parties have been in a dating relationship or if they are, or ever have been roommates.

An EPO, much like a restraining order, is meant to do a few things to protect an alleged victim of a family violence offense after an arrestee is released on an Austin bail bond. It is a temporary legal document prepared by an EPO attorney and signed by a judge at the request of the complaining witness, or if the attorney and judge feel there is a reason for it to be issued. It can last anywhere from thirty-one to ninety-one days, and it prohibits the defendant from committing any family violence against the person named in the order.

It also prohibits the defendant from speaking in a harassing manner to the complaining witness, members of their household or family, or anyone else listed on the order. The judge can also order the defendant to have no communication with the protected parties (unless through a lawyer), or there could multiple addresses that the defendant must stay away from as well. The defendant also may not be in possession of a handgun while this order is in place and a license to carry one is suspended.

If an arrestee can make their Austin bail bond and this condition is ordered, they must abide, no matter how they get released from jail. Not always, but most of the time, this person will not be allowed to return to their home because that is the protected party’s address as well. The order may also stipulate that the arrestee cannot go to the school or daycare of their children, or be allowed communication with their kids at all. Copies of this order go to the respondent (person who has the EPO issued against them), the complaining witness, the chief of police or sheriff where the protected party lives, DPS, and to the principal or person in charge of the school or daycare if involved.

If someone doesn’t comply and violates an EPO, they are facing another arrest and subsequent charge. This means more potential fines and jail time of up to a year for this offense alone. Even if a complaining witness tells the respondent that it is okay to come over, and they go, they are still in violation of the order. Only a judge can modify an EPO at the request of an attorney, no one else.

The whole situation is unfortunate, but if an EPO is ordered, it must be followed. If a judge says you can’t go back to your home because of an EPO, you can’t go back. Not even to get your things. And a police officer can’t escort you there to get your things either. You need a neutral third party to help you, and you need a temporary place to live as well. Getting out of jail for free and not paying your bail bond via a personal bond will require that an alternate address be confirmed first.

Regardless if a bonding company requires an alternate address to get released on a surety bond or not, the fact remains that you probably can’t go home while the order is in effect, and it is against the law to violate any other conditions of the EPO as well. Whether the initial family violence charge against you is true or false, an EPO is still something you may be faced with once you post an Austin bail bond. It is important to know what that means and how to be prepared to deal with it once you post a bail bond and get released.

What Happens If You Violate a Condition of Your Bail Bond?

When you are released from jail on a bail bond, more than likely there will be at least one condition attached that must be followed while your case is pending. The condition will be based upon the offense you are being charged with and your criminal history. If you violate a condition of your bail bond, depending on the type of bond it is and the judge whose court you are in, could mean a whole lot of trouble and even more conditions being added.

There are three ways to get released from jail if you get arrested in Travis County. Once a bail bond has been set, you can post a personal, cash, or surety bond. A personal bond is the free way to get released, but that could mean extra conditions added on by a judge. A cash bond means that you pay the entire amount of the bond, which will be returned once your case is finalized, provided that you went to all of your court dates. And a surety bond is the percentage of the bail bond you pay to the bondsman to post the rest of the amount for you.

If you do choose the personal bond option, this will be the most financially beneficial choice, in lieu of paying your bail bond. But a judge might feel better about signing a personal bond if there are added conditions attached that seemingly promote community safety and be in the best interest of the public. Violating a condition of a personal bond comes with the risk of a Pretrial Officer motioning off on your personal bond.

Many bail bond conditions require being monitored by a Pretrial Services Officer. If you are being monitored and violate any of the conditions of your bail bond, a couple of things could happen depending on the type of bail bond you used to get released. When it comes to a personal bond, your officer will present a motion to revoke your personal bond to the judge. This is also known as a motion off. If the judge grants this, and you lose your personal bond, a warrant will then be issued for your arrest. The judge will either keep the current conditions or add more. If you are released on a surety bond and have conditions, Pretrial Services will present a bail bond increase, which if granted, means another arrest warrant and possibly more conditions as well.

The nature of the charge will determine what conditions are ordered. Then if that condition is violated, it will be up to the judge in that court on how they want to handle the violation. Being assigned to a particular court is just luck of the draw, and some courts have nicer judges. Some courts do not.

DWI Charge Conditions Explained

In a DWI case, a common condition of a bail bond is the Ignition Interlock Device (IID). An IID gets installed in your car that you drive most frequently, and you are required to blow into that device to start it. If the device detects any alcohol on your breath, the car will not start. The alcohol amount will get registered in the device, and your monitoring officer will have a report showing this. After an initial failed test, you will be expected to provide a passing test after a short period of time. If you do not do this, or you continue to have failing breath tests, this will count as a violation.

Violations then get reported to the judge in the form of a motion off. Now it is time for the judge to decide how they want to handle this situation. When a DWI is concerned, a nicer judge is going to give a defendant way more chances than a stricter one. While both judges may not add any extra conditions for the first motion off, or just keep IID as a condition the second time, the third time around will be a different story depending on who is the judge. While a kinder judge will add a Portable Alcohol Monitor (PAM) in addition to IID, a harsher judge will skip the PAM and go right to ordering SCRAM, in addition to IID, to be installed within 48 hours of release.

A Portable Alcohol Monitor, known as a PAM device is a way for Pretrial Services to monitor alcohol content by having clients provide a breath test every four hours. A Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitoring Device is known as SCRAM, and it is an ankle monitor that can detect alcohol through the sweat in the skin. Both hinder your life. Both are very expensive. And they are in addition to an IID if you violate your bail bond.

When these conditions have been added, it means the judge has granted the motion to revoke your personal bond, and there is a warrant for your arrest. These new conditions are on the warrant, usually along with a higher bail bond. And that harsher judge who has ordered SCRAM has also ordered that you can only get released on a cash or bail bond only. Because of your violations, personal bonds are now out of the question.

A tougher judge, when it comes to DWI conditions, seems to have a “three strikes and you’re out” policy. Not only ordering SCRAM in addition to IID sooner than a more liberal judge but requiring it be installed within 48 hours and only allowing release on a cash or bail bond. And if there are any violations after that, it will be hard for your attorney to convince that judge to let you out of jail at all.

A more flexible judge won’t order IID plus SCRAM within 48 hours until the fourth strike, and even then a personal bond is not off the table. There could be two more motion offs presented before you need a cash or bail bond to get released. A fifth strike will mean IID plus SCRAM within 48 hours of release, and you will be required to go to AA twice a week. For this reasonable judge, it won’t be until the last straw that a personal bond will not be allowed. Not only will a cash or bail bond be required now, but IID will remain a condition in addition to AA twice a week and SCRAM must be installed in jail.

DWI: Added Conditions After Each Violation

  1. Nice Judge
    1. No condition
    2. IID
    3. IID + PAM
    4. IID + SCRAM w/in 48 hrs
    5. IID + SCRAM w/in 48 hrs + AA twice a week
    6. IID + SCRAM in jail + AA twice a week (Cash or Bail Bond Only)
  2. Mean Judge
    1. No condition
    2. IID
    3. IID + SCRAM w/in 48 hrs (Cash or Bail Bond Only)

Drug Charge Conditions Explained

A likely condition when it comes to a drug charge is random urinalysis, also known as random UAs. The Pretrial Services Officer who monitors your case will notify you when you have to go, and if you don’t show up or you fail the test, this will result in a violation of your condition of bail bond. And that means another potential motion to revoke your bail bond.

In this situation, the motion off warrant might not get signed by a more lenient judge. You will probably get a warning before they revoke your bail bond. But a firmer judge is going to revoke your bail bond and order out-patient treatment much sooner. And another violation after that will result in the ultimate ordering of in-patient treatment.

Drug: Added Conditions After Each Violation

  1. Nice Judge
    1. Random UA
    2. Warning
    3. Revoke bond + Out-patient treatment
    4. In-patient treatment
  2. Mean Judge
    1. Random UA
    2. Revoke bond + Out-patient treatment
    3. In-patient treatment

Assault Charge Conditions Explained

Assault family violence cases are particularly tricky when it comes to handling bail bond condition violations. On one hand, the safety of a complaining witness, or victim, is at stake. On the other hand, we have to remember that this charge of violence has been alleged and the arrestee has not actually been convicted of this claimed assault.

A more flexible judge and prosecutor may order no contact with the complaining witness if you violate a condition of your bail bond. No contact means that you cannot speak to the complaining witness through phone, written, or digital communication. You cannot see them in person either. If you violate this condition, they will more than likely give you a warning. But on a third strike, even a nice judge will revoke your bond and order that you get GPS installed before you get released from jail. GPS tracks every move you make and it costs about $300 a month.

If an Emergency Protective Order (EPO) is in place as a condition of your bail bond, and you violate a rule of the order, an additional, separate charge will be filed against you. An EPO is a temporary stay-away order that is filed on behalf of the complaining witness in the case. There are terms of this protection order, any of which that is breached can result in the prosecutor filing a violation of a protective order against you. This is only going to make matters worse for your original case, not to mention now you have a whole new charge to worry about.

Conditions of your bail bond are not to be taken lightly. While you may have an easygoing judge or prosecutor, taking the chance with any violations means potentially getting rearrested and having even more conditions added to your release. Not only can the expenses add up, but you can put your individual liberties in such jeopardy that you could be monitored in one way or another every single day that your case is pending. Doing well with your bail bond conditions is ultimately going to help with your charges, and adding fuel to the fire with condition violations will only hurt the ultimate outcome of your case.

Assault: Added Conditions After Each Violation

  1. Nice Judge
    1. No contact
    2. Warning
    3. Revoke Bond + Add GPS in jail
  2. Nice Prosecutor
    1. No contact
    2. Warning
    3. File VPO

A Break Down of Bail Bond Forfeitures

You’ve been arrested, a bail bond has been set, and now it’s time to figure out how to get out of jail. A personal bond, a cash bond, or a surety bond are the ways in which someone can get released once an Austin bail bond has been set. Regardless of the way you are released, you are required to attend every court date. During the time of arrest and being booked into jail, you can feel like you are in the dark and not know what to do next. Another part of this process where you are also in the dark is what happens if you do miss one of these court appearances, and the effect of a bail bond forfeiture complicates your situation even more.

A bail bond forfeiture means that if you miss a court date, your bond (or bail) is forfeited (or lost). Per the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, Article 22.01, “When a defendant is bound by bail to appear and fails to appear in any court in which such case may be pending and at any time when his personal appearance is required under this Code, or by any court or magistrate, forfeiture of his bail and a judicial declaration of such forfeiture shall be taken in the manner provided in Article 22.02 of this Code.”

Article 22.02 goes on to say that the state is owed that bail bond money, whether it be a cash bond or surety bond unless there is a reasonable explanation of why someone did not appear in court. When someone is arrested, they have a right to an attorney. If financially able, it benefits an arrestee to hire a lawyer to represent them. If someone can’t afford to hire a lawyer, one will be appointed. One of the comforts of having an attorney is that he or she can attend or reset court for many settings before a defendant is required to attend. Something to keep in mind is this – whether it’s you or your lawyer who doesn’t show up to court, YOU are the one who will get in trouble for not being there. A bail bond forfeiture warrant will be issued for your arrest, not your lawyer, and it will be another headache in which you will have to handle.

If you are able to get initially released from jail for free with a personal bond, that is one of the best options. Something to keep in mind regarding a personal bond release is that if you miss court, the bond will be revoked, and a bail bond forfeiture warrant will be issued. They will hold you in jail like it’s a new charge in the sense you have to post a bond before you can get released. At this point, your lawyer can ask the judge to sign a judge’s card, reinstating the personal bond. You can’t get the personal bond reinstated on your own, however, unless it is a misdemeanor bail bond forfeiture. Even then, Pretrial Services can’t recommend a personal bond, but a judge might still grant one.

In addition to a warrant being issued when someone misses court, a civil suit will also be filed. Depending on how quickly you (or more likely) your attorney takes care of the bail bond forfeiture depends on the likelihood of a civil suit. It could take at least a month to file a civil suit. No matter what kind of bond you were released on, either you or the surety company will be cited and served.

Whether it is yourself or your attorney who needs to go to court for you, you are the one ultimately responsible for being there. You are the one who will face the consequences if you are not. People are human and things happen, but going to court needs to be a top priority when facing a criminal charge. So much is at stake – money, freedom, a potential record of bail bond forfeitures (yes, they show up in your criminal history, potentially a red flag when it comes to securing a future personal bond). Take care of a bail bond forfeiture quickly, or better yet, make sure to never miss a court date in the first place.

Austin Bail Bond Rights

Table of Contents

  • Bail Bond Rights Based on the US and Texas Constitution
  • Austin Bail Bonds Board
  • Why the Austin Bail Bonds System Is Broken in Austin TX
  • Austin Bail Bonds Is Dirty Business
  • Don’t Fall For These Austin Bail Bondsman Tricks
  • Are Austin Bail Bondsman Ethical?
  • Flawed Arguments In Favor of Austin Bail Bonds

Bail Bond Rights Based on the US and Texas Constitution

When we think of our constitutional rights in the United States and in Texas, in terms of being arrested, a few different ones probably quickly come to mind. The right to remain silent. The right to an attorney. Maybe there are a few that aren’t so obvious. The right to a fair and speedy trial. The right to a trial by jury. There is another aspect of our rights when it comes to the matter of Austin bail bonds that we should all be aware of, especially now that the courts are waking up to the fact that excessive bail bonds are depriving people of their freedom before they have even stepped inside of a courtroom.

The United States Constitution guarantees certain rights to its citizens who are accused of crimes. The Eighth Amendment of the US Constitution states that, “Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.” But, unfortunately, some judges are setting bail bond amounts that are so high, no reasonable person could afford to post a cash bond or even pay the percentage of a surety bond to get released. If a bail bond amount is set at $50,000 and a bail bonding company charges 10% of that to an arrestee, that is $5,000. That is a lot of money for an average person, but when you take a person who is indigent, who has a higher chance of getting arrested in the first place, paying that amount is impossible.

Those who are arrested in Texas, and have to pay an Austin bail bond to get released, also have the same rights when it comes to excessive bail or fines under Section 13 of the Texas Constitution. It reiterates our US Constitution by stating, “Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel or unusual punishment inflicted.” Why are people being punished by being kept in jail before it has been decided whether they are guilty or innocent? And with the recent bail bond reforms happening across Texas, how come these rights have gone ignored for so long?

On the other side of this coin, there are some instances where an arrestee can flat out be denied an Austin bail bond. According to Section 11a of the Texas Constitution, being convicted of or indicted for multiple felonies could result in the denial of bail. Section 11b deals with the possible denial of bond if a condition of release is violated. Specifically stating, “an offense involving family violence, who is released on bail pending trial, and whose bail is subsequently revoked or forfeited for a violation of a condition of release may be denied bail pending trial if a judge or magistrate in this state determines by a preponderance of the evidence at a subsequent hearing that the person violated a condition of release related to the safety of a victim of the alleged offense or to the safety of the community.” Section 11c can deny a bail bond of those accused of violating an emergency protective order in family violence cases.

Being accused of a violent crime is serious. This is exactly the time when a bail bond is important and necessary. Like the people who are accused of allegedly committing a violent crime, the victims of these offenses have certain rights as well according to the Texas Constitution. According to Section 30, victims of crimes are “reasonably protected from the accused throughout the criminal justice process.” Other rights included are, “the right to notification of court proceedings; the right to be present at all public court proceedings related to the offense, unless the victim is to testify and the court determines that the victim’s testimony would be materially affected if the victim hears other testimony at the trial; the right to confer with a representative of the prosecutor’s office; the right to restitution; and the right to information about the conviction, sentence, imprisonment, and release of the accused.”

There are criteria that need to be examined when someone is arrested to determine a reasonable, sufficient bail bond amount. What is the offense that is being charged? Is it a misdemeanor or a felony? Violent or non-violent? Are they a danger to themselves or the public? What can this person reasonably pay to get released to come back to court? What is the likelihood they will come back to court in the first place? These are the factors that should be determined before a bail bond is set. The days of already set bond amounts for particular offenses are over, and the court needs to examine how they set a bail bond for each individual arrestee, case by case.

If someone is accused of committing a non-violent misdemeanor (or even felony), how is it fair that they are forced to stay in jail because they can’t afford to pay their bail bond? These people are being punished before they are even convicted of committing a crime. All too often they plead to something they didn’t do just to get out of jail to get back to some semblance of normal. By that time, so much has been affected by this unconstitutional incarceration. They can lose their jobs, homes, or children. Something like this can unravel their lives in such a way that they can never get back on track.

According to the Texas Constitution, Section 19, “No citizen of this State shall be deprived of life, liberty, property, privileges or immunities, or in any manner disfranchised, except by the due course of the law of the land.” Due course of law means that someone is innocent unless proven guilty. It means no excessive Austin bail bonds. It means that your life doesn’t have to upend solely because you have been accused of doing something wrong and you can’t afford to pay your bail bond to get out of jail. It is important to know your constitutional rights when faced with the situation of being arrested. If you and your lawyer don’t stand up for you when it comes to these rights, who will?

Austin Bail Bond Board

Under the Texas Occupations Code, Austin must have a Bail Bond Board because it has a population of over 110,000 people. According to the US Census, Travis County has a population of over 1.3 million people. Austin is at the heart of Travis County and is where Central Booking and the Travis County Jail is located. See Title 10 Occupations Related To Law Enforcement And Security, Chapter 1704 Regulation Of Bail Bond Sureties, Subchapter B County Bail Bond Boards, Section 1704.051 Mandatory Creation Of Board.

The Bail Bond Board is in charge of regulating the Austin Bail Bondsman and approving licenses. Meetings are open to the public per the Open Records Act.

The Texas Occupations Rules establishes the rules that govern who comprise the Bail Bond Board. Under Section 1704.053, the Bail Bond Board must include the following members. See here for a full list of the members www.traviscountytx.gov/bail-bond-board/board-members.

The Bail Bond Board must include the Travis County Sheriff’s Office or a designated member from the Travis County Sheriff’s Office who is her administrator or a deputy sheriff that is at least a sergeant. Sheriff Sally Hernandez is the board member for Austin.

Sheriff Sally Hernandez, Travis County Sheriff’s Office

The Bail Bond Board must include a Travis County criminal district court judge. Judge David Wahlberg of the 167th District Court is the board member for Austin.

Judge David Wahlberg, 167th District Court

The Bail Bond Board must include a Travis County county court judge who is designated by the commissioner’s court. Judge Sarah Eckhardt of the Travis County Commissioners Court is the board member for Austin.

Judge Sarah Eckhardt, Travis County Commissioners Court

The Bail Bond Board must include a Travis County criminal county court judge. Judge Carlos Barrera of the Travis County Court #8 is the board member for Austin.

Judge Carlos Barrera, Travis County Court #8

The Bail Bond Board must include the DA or an assistant DA designated by the DA. Assistant DA Dayna Blazey is the board member for Austin. She was designated by Travis County DA Margaret Moore.

Dayna Blazey, Travis County DA’s Office

The Bail Bond Board must include a licensed bail bond surety or agent for a corporate surety. Jennifer Moreno-Williams of Bail Bonds Express is the board member for Austin.

The Bail Bond Board must include the district clerk. Velva Price is the Travis County District Clerk and is the board member for Austin.

Velva Price, Travis County District Clerk

The Bail Bond Board must include the district clerk or someone designated by the district clerk. Adana Hess is the board member for Austin. She was designated by Travis County District Clerk Dana DeBeauvoir.

The Bail Bond Board can include a presiding judge of a municipal court in Travis County. Judge Sherry Statman of the City of Austin Municipal Court is the board member for Austin.

Judge Sherry Statman, City of Austin Municipal Court

The Bail Bond Board must include the Travis County Treasurer or someone designated by the Travis County Treasurer. Dolores Ortega–Carter is the board member for Austin.

Dolores Ortega–Carter, Travis County Treasurer

The Bail Bond Board must include a Travis County criminal defense attorney. Ben Blackburn is the board member for Austin.

Why the Austin Bail Bonds System Is Broken?

Most of the time, a lawyer wins out. But there are certain scenarios when getting an Austin Bail Bondsman is the only way.

For first-degree capital offenses, like Murder or Rape, a judge won’t likely sign a personal bond. The reason is the judge is an elected official and is elected by the citizens. They don’t want to let people out of jail who commit further violence against the alleged victim. If something does happen, the judge’s name is going to be on the Personal Bond document reported in the news. This is not a good look for them. The news will try to blame it on the judge letting the person out. But in reality, if a person can get out even with a Bail Bond, they can commit the same acts of violence if they chose. But this is not what judges think about. Because they would not get thrown under the bus.

The reality is that this can happen for any person the judge releases from jail, even for a misdemeanor Assault Family Violence or a DWI with no victim. There are multiple ways a person can leave the country and flee. This is what judges are concerned about. Getting out with an Austin Bail Bondsman will force them to have skin in the game. But this is an illogical argument. A person can get out of jail with a bail bondsman, and even if they return to court, they will not get the money back. So to the person in jail, that is not a valid motivation.

Worst case scenario, for a flight risk, some people can afford to pay even a cash bail bond and escape the country. What is the difference? Their wealth allowed them to pay their way out of jail. So the arguments supporting denying people’s personal bonds do not relate to them as a flight risk and the safety of the victim. It only has to do with preventing bad publicity if something bad happens.

If people were a real flight risk, add house arrest to their bail bond conditions. Or deny them any bond. This happens a lot. This is rare if someone has an attorney because we can advocate in front of a judge. Or we can advocate for release on Personal Bond with added conditions. If we think about it, this is better than getting out with an Austin Bail Bondsman or with a Cash Bail Bond.

These considerations are not great enough to overcome the fear of bad publicity, however. The only solution if judges weren’t elected and were hired, so they could be more unbiased for these tough cases. Every life matters and especially for these serious charges. Denying someone’s personal bond in favor of them getting an Austin Bail Bondsman is not a solution.

Austin Bail Bonds Is Dirty Business

Austin Bail Bondsman argues that there is no better way to prevent a defendant from fleeing than putting a third party on the hook financially. But with the number of people that don’t come back to court so low, is it worth it?

Most people get rearrested eventually. They drive to work, they get pulled over, and the officer runs their driver’s license. They’re screwed. They have an active warrant. They will now go back to jail. This is an imperfect system but the defendants still answer to the charges against them. So in most cases, the justification behind Austin bail bondsman is not valid.

There are only two countries in the world where an arrestee can contract with a bail bonding company. Those countries are the Philippines, and of course, the United States. For a practice that is so widely recognized in our country, and even required in most counties of Texas, why has it been outlawed by the rest of the world? In some countries, like Canada, if someone profits off of a bail bond, they are facing a jail sentence of up to two years.

The business of Austin bail bonds, as well as the bail bonding companies around the country, are corrupt. When making money is involved in bail bonds, the possibility of abusing the power haunts our criminal justice system. In Louisiana, a well-known bondsman went to prison for bribing judges with money, women, and alcohol. In other parts of the United States, bail bondsman have allegedly forced women into sex who otherwise can’t afford to pay their bail bond or that of a loved one.

With all of the dirty practices of bail bonding companies, one would think that having this third party in place would motivate people to come to court. In Dallas, a very pro-bail county in Texas, a staggering 26% fail to show up. According to a 2007 study, 18% of defendants released on commercial bail nationwide don’t show back up to court.

Being arrested and eventually going to trial can mean taking a huge gamble with someone’s freedom. While people wait for their day in court, they shouldn’t have to worry about an Austin bail bondsman throwing them in jail for not complying by missing a payment or some other rule they deem an arrestee should follow (beyond getting rearrested or missing a court date). These dirty, unregulated businesses have the ability to restrict the freedom of an individual before they even step inside of a courtroom, and there isn’t proof that these companies are even helping people get there in the first place. Maybe one day the United States will catch up with the rest of the world and ban these businesses for good.

Don’t Fall For These Austin Bail Bondsman Tricks

Getting arrested is a stressful and confusing time. Whether it is you dealing with an arrest, or someone you love, usually all parties involved are in the dark. Getting released is a top priority, and unfortunately, there are Austin bail bondsmen who will prey on people in these vulnerable circumstances. If you know the tricks to look out for, you can avoid being duped into an already difficult situation becoming even worse.

Be careful if an Austin bail bondsman doesn’t charge you enough. The saying ‘too good to be true’ is fitting in this instance. The going rate for a surety bond is at least 10% of your bail bond amount. Some bail bonding companies might give you a rate of 5%, which sounds great at first, but it can come with a catch. This could very well be a mere downpayment, the rest to be charged with interest, none of which you are aware of before you sign into a contract. And while it may be legal to do this, it is a very shady practice. If an Austin bail bondsman wants to charge you a downpayment, this should be discussed beforehand, and you shouldn’t owe any extra interest.

Another trick to look out for is being solicited by a bail bonding company. Let’s say you are in jail and an Austin bail bondsman tells you that he will discount your bail bond fee if you tell other people in jail to go through his or her company. This is a huge red flag. Unlike many bail bonding company practices that go unregulated, solicitation is monitored. Austin bail bonding companies are not allowed by law to solicit people outside of the jail either. An example would be if a bail bonding company found the loved ones of people who have been arrested and called them, offering their services. An Austin bail bondsman can only call you at the behest of a loved one who has been arrested. Other than that, it is up to the arrestee or a family member to contact the bail bonding company first.

If your last option to get released from jail is going through an Austin bail bonding company, it is best to shop around first. Read reviews, get multiple quotes, and go into it with your eyes open. Be on the lookout for the tricks that surety bond companies can pull to drum up business, and don’t let yourself be a victim in the questionable games they play.

Are Austin Bail Bondsman Ethical?

Imagine yourself or a loved one has just been arrested in Austin and a bail bond amount has been set for release. This is the first time this has happened and everyone is in the dark about what to do next. Popular culture has portrayed the bail bondsman as the only way to get out of jail. But in Austin, some people are able to get released for free on a personal bond. If you don’t know this, and you call a bail bondsman to help you, is he or she ethically required to tell you about getting out for free?

The short answer is no. Bail bondsman in Austin run businesses. And the goal of a business is to make money. The bail bonding business is a multi-billion dollar industry that unfortunately preys upon low income, vulnerable people. In some cases where the bail bond amount is so high, people have to use their homes as collateral because they can’t afford the 10 to 20% of the bond or surety amount a bail bondsman will charge. This puts the bail bondsman in a position to seize this collateral if need be, which could ultimately result in someone losing his or her home.

Bail bondsman have and will use forceful measures if a client doesn’t show up to court. This is not a field that has regulations in place. In fact, with minimal training, anyone can be a bail bondsman. There is also no proof of a decrease in bail jumping or an increase in public safety when a bail bondsman is involved in posting a bond for a client. The even seedier bail bonding businesses in Austin can also refuse to help people who have lower bail bond amounts, seeing them as unworthy clients. Do you think at this point they would tell people they could get out for free? Probably not.

While bail bondsman are not required to tell people they can get out for free, when it comes to ethics, they should. If they did this or had higher standards, maybe Google would allow them to post ads for their services again. Or maybe Austin doesn’t even need bail bonding businesses at all. With bail reform acts being put in place and Pretrial Services making it possible for more people to receive personal bonds, bail bondsman could become something of the past, putting their unethical practices behind us.

Flawed Arguments In Favor of Austin Bail Bonds

The American Bail Coalition is a powerful group that lobbies Congress and States against bail reform and to keep the status quo. Bail bondsman make a living from this industry and the surety businesses love them too for their high-profit margin and low loss rate. There are several flawed arguments these organizations make to try to prevent Pretrial Services from being more prevalent.

People shouldn’t get out of jail for free for a heinous crime

People aren’t released for murder or for rape just willy nilly. First degree felonies and second-degree felonies are not treated as a low-level misdemeanor like DWI or Possession of Marijuana. Even if a lawyer approaches a judge to advocate for an arrestee’s release for something violent or serious, it will most likely be denied. If it is approved, the conditions of getting out would be a GPS ankle monitor or arrest. This is done to protect the alleged victim. Most of the arguments the bail bonds industry makes are logically flawed. They are using the worst crimes to justify denying release for every offense, including a first time DWI.

There should never be a presumption that a defendant is entitled to release solely because they are poor

There can be a presumption that everyone gets out of jail for free for a low-level offense. Just because they get out of jail for free with a Personal Bond doesn’t mean they are off the hook. If they don’t show up for court, they forfeit their personal bond and a judge will sign a warrant for their arrest and double their bail bond amount.

Next time they get caught, they won’t have such an easy time getting out of jail. This is when bail bonds or a lawyer are the two options to get out. The bail bonds route becomes twice as hard. The whole premise behind a bail bondsman is that they want to ensure people will go back to court. But if someone proved they did not show up to court, then the bail bondsman has less of an assurance that they will go to court. For these situations, the bail bond business requires two cosigners when they normally require one cosigner for an initial jail release. This punishes people even more, which is an incentive to showing up to court with a Personal Bond. Or if they can’t afford a bail bond, a lawyer can help get them out.

People won’t go back to court if they don’t have skin in the game

To be honest, this is the best argument Austin bail bonds have. With a bail bondsman, they have a family member who cosigned for them, so they have an accountability partner who will make sure they go to court. This is actually a good argument in the old days. But now, with technology and automated email and text reminders when their court date is, people are reminded to go to court. And if they don’t go, that’s on them. If they don’t go to court, now is when they will need to hire a bail bond business or a lawyer.

Magistrate Judges Set Austin Bail Bonds

Table of Contents

  • How Does Magistration Work in Austin
  • Magistrate Judges Set Austin Bail Bonds
  • The Biggest Myth With a Court-Appointed Lawyer

How Does Magistration Work in Austin?

There is a court proceeding that everyone must attend before they can get released if they are arrested. This is called a magistration hearing. This may be an unfamiliar word to many people, but it is the initial hearing, or arraignment, of someone who gets booked into jail. There is a magistrate judge in the jail seven days a week, twenty-four hours a day.

Let’s start with the arrest. A lot of times, the person arrested is with their family member or a friend at the scene. The family member always asks the officer how do I get my loved one out of jail. The police officer is the first person to give a mini-magistration rundown on the basic steps towards getting out of jail. The first step is seeing a judge and then you can help post a bail bond. Most of the time, this is as much detail as the officer gives. They don’t explain all the different options on posting a bail bond. This is one example of how people are kept in the dark for 6-12 hours before they see the judge who explains this process to them. In most jurisdictions, posting a cash bail bond is ironically the cheapest way to get out of jail because all of it is refundable if the person shows up to all court dates. But traditionally, people still think of Austin bail bondsman as the way to get out of jail.

A police officer has twenty-four hours to turn in paperwork to the jail and have their arrestee see a judge for a misdemeanor charge, or they have to release them. It is forty-eight hours for a felony charge. The magistrate judge will be the one most likely to determine if there was enough probable cause for an arrest and agree to sign the probable cause affidavit. This judge also sets the bail bond and any conditions someone will have to follow once released. Magistrate judges can issue arrest and search warrants as well, and they arraign defendants.

Once the paperwork is in order and the bail bond has been set, the magistration hearing can take place. The bail bonds process is very refined. Pretrial Services will fill out a financial workup before the judge sets a bond amount. This is to achieve an equitable bail bond for each person based on their individual financial circumstance. This creates a system that is oppressive towards people who can’t afford their bail bonds.

Magistration usually takes place in a large group, where the judge will first give everyone their rights. Then he or she will explain the ways in which to get released from jail. Lastly, the judge will call on each individual person in the room one by one, informing them of their charge, bail bond and any conditions that will be in place upon release. The judge will also ask if they are able to afford an attorney or would like to request that one be appointed to them by the court., receiving a court appointed attorney is based on income and financial assistance factors.

After being magistrated, people can now work on getting released from the jail. The only way someone can refrain from going to this proceeding is by hiring an attorney before it happens. An attorney can go to the judge and waive magistration once a probable cause affidavit is signed, speeding up the release process., once someone has been magistrated, the jail will update their website with the person’s name, charge, bond amount, and what kind of bond they need to get released: Cash, Surety, or Any Type Bond. Any Type Bond includes cash bail bond, surety bond, and personal bond.

Magistrate Judges Set Austin Bail Bonds

We are one of the few cities in Texas that allows for Lawyers to get people out of jail instead of Austin Bail Bondsman. The only reason this is possible is because the city has judges at the jail 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. As a result, our city has the most efficient magistration process in Texas.

Municipal Court is the court that staffs the magistrate judges at the jail. There are two kinds of magistrates, Associate Judges and Substitute Judges. Associate Judges are full-time employees. They work at the Municipal Court doing traffic ticket trials and Class C trials. But part of their duties involves working at the jail. Associate Judges are part-time independent contractors and are allowed to practice law outside of being a judge.

The Presiding Judge for Municipal Court is Sherry Statman. Here is the organizational chart on the entire Municipal Court.

(2018-2021 Term) Municipal Court Judges

Associate Judges Substitute Judges
Michael Coffey Ferdinand Clervi
Barbara Garcia Kelly Evans
Alfred Jenkins Belinda Herrera
Patrick McNelis Stanley Kerr
Mitchell Solomon Evelyn McKee
George Thomas Ronald Meyerson
Stephen Vigorito Ryan Turner
Kenneth Vitucci
John Yeager
Brian Guerra
Pamela Sigman
Christyne Harris Schultz
Tanisa Jeffers
Olga Seelig

The first job of the magistrates is to be the gatekeeper for arrests. An arrest affidavit must meet probable cause to be legally valid. There are stricter judges and there are more lenient judges on this burden of proof.

The second job of the magistrates is to set an Austin Bail Bond that is appropriate for the specific offense for the specific person to make sure they will come back to court. In the past, some people have the opinion that the magistrates set Austin Bail Bond artificially high as an incentive to hire a lawyer. Because Lawyers don’t have to personally insure the arrestee’s appearance in court, there is no financial stake, and Lawyers can take someone’s case for lower than a similar Austin Bail Bondsman would charge to get someone out of jail. So it’s an undeniable no brainer to hire a lawyer to get out of jail. You get out of jail AND you get that applied towards your legal representation.

The third job of the magistrates is to tell the arrestee what their charge is and their Austin Bail Bond. In addition, the magistrate also tells people that they have the right to a lawyer and if they cannot afford one, the court will appoint them one.

The Biggest Myth With a Court-Appointed Lawyer

During magistration, the judge will tell your loved one that they have the right to a lawyer and that if they cannot afford one, they will be appointed one.

The biggest myth is that a court-appointed lawyer will come to visit them and represent them immediately. The arrestees will not even be assigned a court-appointed lawyer until a week later. Then they will have a court date set a month later. Most times, the first time a person meets their court-appointed lawyer is right before the court starts to talk for a few minutes about how they will get out quickly if they plead guilty.

Most people in Austin can’t afford a Bail Bond and because they can’t afford a lawyer. The result is that they are stuck in incarceration, losing their jobs, their apartments, and their credit. This creates a downward spiral of poverty that is almost impossible to dig out of.

Furthermore, it is not guaranteed that people who can’t afford a lawyer will be appointed a lawyer. The Capital Area Private Defender Service is the pseudo Austin Public Defender’s Office. Lawyers sign up for a list and get randomly assigned cases. The current guidelines to qualify for a court-appointed lawyer is a monthly income of $1300 or less for a single person. This is an unlivable wage. And if someone works hard and has two jobs, they almost certainly won’t qualify.

See below for the Austin Indigency Guideline. The cutoff amounts are set at 125% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines.

2019 Indigency Guideline

Household Size Monthly Income
1 $1,302
2 $1,762
3 $2,222
4 $2,683
5 $3,143
6 $3,604
7 $4,064
8 $4,524
For each additional person, add $461

I have personally gotten many people out of jail and gone to court with them to help them apply for an Austin court-appointed lawyer. Time and time again, people who make $1400 and get $300 taken out automatically for child support will be disqualified from a court-appointed lawyer.

Therefore, there are a lot of people who are in jail and who do not have a court-appointed lawyer. This is a direct result of the inability to afford any way to satisfy an Austin Bail Bond.

Austin Bail Bondsman Are Not the Answer

Table of Contents

  • Bail Bondsman are not the Answer in Austin TX
  • An Austin Lawyer Can Get Your Loved One Out of Jail Faster and Cheaper Than an Austin Bail Bondsman
  • How to Get Your Loved One Out of Jail Faster Than an Austin Bail Bondsman
  • Austin Bail Bond System Punishes Indigent Arrestee’s Freedom
  • Higher Chance Of Being Wrongfully Convicted for Arrestees Who Can’t Afford a Bail Bond in Austin
  • What Happens If You Can’t Afford an Austin Bail Bond

Bail Bondsman are not the Answer in Austin TX

The Bail Bond Board licenses the following bail bondsman to conduct business in Austin. Under the Texas Occupations Code §1704.105, The Bail Bond Board is required to be posted in every criminal courtroom. Furthermore, the Bail Bond Board shall give the Sheriff’s Office an Updated List of each of the licensed Austin Bail Bondsman in Central Booking, Travis County Jail, and the Travis County Correctional Complex.

In Austin, however, lawyers can get people out of jail. And it is often the preferred way to get out of jail for most people. So why isn’t there a list of lawyers posted at the jail?

There is nationwide attention on bail reform, and Travis County is doing it’s part too. Pretrial Services is the department that is in charge of getting people out of jail for free. It is funded by the county’s taxpayers and is a service that interviews arrestees and presents their bond information to a judge. They give a one-sentence summary recommending release or opposing release to the judge.

Starting in March 2020, the County Judges agreed to automatically release arrestees from first-time offenses like DWI 1st, Possession of Marijuana, and Criminal Mischief. This is a policy decision that the judge’s made.

People who don’t qualify have three options to get out.

  1. Pay the full bond amount in cash
  2. Pay a lawyer to advocate for your release with a judge
  3. Pay a bail bondsman

Option 1 is money bail and is the most traditional bail. But this is almost impossible for most people, so this is not a realistic option. So there are only two viable options for most people: pay a lawyer or pay a bail bondsman. Here’s the difference.

Austin Bail Bondsman will charge you 10-20% as bond insurance or surety to secure your full bond amount. The moment you step outside of jail, they have done their job you hired them for. For a criminal allegation, most people hire a lawyer and have to pay full price to a lawyer.

Lawyers will charge you 10-20% to advocate for your release with a judge and it gets applied towards your representation. Many people call this “two birds one stone.” This is the preferred way to get out of jail. So why isn’t it allowed for a list of lawyers to be down at the jail right next to the list of Bail Bondsman Surety Bond Agents?

There is a phone book for lawyers, but it is very old. So in effect, every single county in Texas, including Travis County, is subsidizing bail bondsman. When objectively, arrestees would get more value by getting out of jail and having a lawyer for their case.

An Austin Lawyer Can Get Your Loved One Out of Jail
Faster and Cheaper Than an Austin Bail Bondsman

 

How is a Lawyer FASTER than an Austin Bail Bondsman?

The judge must review the police report when setting the bond. At the jail, there is a huge stack of police reports that the judge must review, in the order they were turned in. The judge typically reviews the police report 24 hours after you were arrested to set a bond. Only then can an Austin Bail Bondsman post your bond.

An Austin Bail Bondsman can only post your bond 24 hours after you’ve been arrested.

A Lawyer can ask the Judge to review the police report and set the bond immediately. This allows the lawyer to get your loved one out of jail IMMEDIATELY.

How is a Lawyer CHEAPER than an Austin Bail Bondsman?

Bail Bondsmen are surety agents for your bond amount. If your bond amount is $5000, you won’t have to pay the full $5000 bond amount. Instead, you will pay the Austin Bail Bondsman 10-20% of the bond amount or $500-$1000.

BUT because Austin Bail Bondsmen are surety agents, they must require you have:

  1. Good credit, OR
  2. Homeowner

Even if you do qualify for an Austin Bail Bondsman, this means that you will put your house at stake in case your loved one doesn’t show up for court. This is a huge financial risk you are taking on for your loved one. If your loved one doesn’t show up for court, you can lose your home. Unfortunately, if you don’t own a home and don’t have good credit, you don’t qualify for an Austin Bail Bondsman.

Lawyers typically charge 10% of the bond amount, with no requirements.

Lawyers don’t have any requirements because we work with the judges every day, so we’ve developed a personal relationship with most of them. That is why Lawyers don’t have any further requirements for getting your loved one out of Travis County Jail.

Call 24/7 to get your loved one out of jail. We are always on call.

How to Get Your Loved One Out of Jail Faster Than an Austin Bail Bondsman

We are one of the few cities in Texas that has a judge always at the jail 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. The judge at the jail is called a magistrate judge and is in charge of signing arrest affidavits for police officers. Most importantly, these judges at the jail administering magistration hearings telling arrestees their charges and setting their Austin Bail Bond.

The benefit of having a judge always at the jail is that lawyers can go talk to the judge to expedite your loved one’s jail release. This is highly advantageous. For example, on a given weekday night, this is the jail release timeline between hiring an Austin Bail Bondsman and hiring a Lawyer.

Marco is an accountant and he has a 9am-5pm job. Let’s say on a Thursday night, Marco goes out to dinner and drinks with friends. He leaves at 12am, when he gets arrested for DWI. He gets booked into jail at 2am. With an Austin Bail Bondsman, Marco will get out of jail at 5pm later that day, he would have missed an entire day of work without any warning. Whereas with a Lawyer, Marco would get out of jail at 8am only a few hours later, with enough time to go home and shower and go to work.

Jail Release Timeline: Austin Bail Bondsman

2am 8am 12pm 1pm 5pm
Booked into jail Judge reviews your arrest affidavit (and sets bond amount) Judge tells you charge and the bond amount Bail Bond posted at jail Released from jail

Jail Release Timeline: Lawyer

2am 3am 4am 8am
Booked into jail Attorney asks judge to review your arrest affidavit, set your bond amount, and to waive magistration Personal Bond posted at jail Released from jail

When a person is booked into the jail, they sit down in Central Booking and wait for magistration. This is the holding room of the jail. Central Booking is where people get changed into jail clothes. In Austin, jail clothes are black and white stripes. They are reused from other arrestees. After 4 hours or after magistration, whichever happens first, the guards will take the person to a jail cell.

With an Austin Bail Bondsman, the person will definitely go into a jail cell. With a Lawyer, your loved one can avoid going into a jail cell. Each minute spent in jail increases the likelihood that your loved one will get sick. The jail clothes are paper thin and the jail is always blasting cold air. The jail guards only give you a small blanket to keep warm. But this is not enough. Every single person I’ve visited in jail was shivering when I went to go visit them. And especially during a pandemic like COVID-19, it is especially dangerous to be surrounded in close proximity to people.

The best way to get out of jail is with a Lawyer, not an Austin Bail Bondsman. We are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and 365 days a year. It is our passion and it’s what we do.

Austin’s Bail Bond System Punishes Indigent Arrestee’s Freedom

There is an overwhelming percentage of people who are sitting in jail who have not been convicted of a crime that they are accused of committing. How can this be? Isn’t someone innocent unless it was proven that he or she committed said crime? Why are they being punished before a verdict has been reached? The sad fact is that they are being penalized for the simple reason that they are poor, and they can’t afford to get released while their case is pending.

In life, things always seem to come much easier to those who are wealthy. This is especially true if you get arrested and are faced with paying an Austin bail bond to get released. Not only could the percentage of your bail bond be easily paid through a surety bond, you may even be in a position where you have enough money to pay the whole amount and get released on a cash bond. This makes waiting for your case in the comfort of your own home, life uninterrupted, still having your job, look like a luxury.

But it isn’t a privilege to get released from jail after being arrested. The truth is, it is a constitutional right to not have an excessive bail amount imposed. The despairing reality is that those who are indigent have a higher chance of getting arrested in the first place. And a $10,000 Austin bail bond for someone who is poor means an almost certainty that they won’t be able to get released. So they are forced to sit in jail and wait out their case.

Being in jail has serious effects on the brain and emotional health. Stress, mental health issues and substance abuse are all potential consequences of being imprisoned. The disconnection from friends and family can be very harmful to the human psyche as well. So why are people being put at risk of all of these things and being punished for something they are only being accused of doing because they can’t pay their Austin bail bond? It’s discrimination in the worst way. Justice is fairness, and this is far from fair.

It doesn’t make sense for someone who is arrested for a non-violent misdemeanor charge to stay in jail because they can’t afford their Austin bail bond. Keeping this person incarcerated is not the answer. Thankfully the courts are starting to look at each individual arrestee and figuring out a reasonable bail bond amount based on financial information and the nature of the charges. Punishing an indigent person because they can’t afford their bail bond only makes our system weaker and ultimately gives up on a person who never had a chance in the first place.

Higher Chance Of Being Wrongfully Convicted for Arrestees Who Can’t Afford a Bail Bond in Austin

The coronavirus pandemic shined light on the negatives of the bail bond system, including a higher risk of contracting coronavirus and a higher chance of being convicted.

Higher Risk of Contracting Coronavirus

The first issue is inadequate medical care. For COVID-19, the clear issue is there sufficient safe-measures in place to avoid face to face contact among arrestees and guards. The secondary question is whether or not there are sufficient tests for arrestees. The answer is no. Only 1% of people in Texas jail have been tested for coronavirus.

This illuminates a two tiered justice system in Austin when it comes to bail bonds. The first group of arrestees are folks who can afford for family or friends to bail them out of jail on a bail bondsman or an attorney. The second group of arrestees are folks who cannot afford for family or friends to bail them out of jail on neither a bail bondsman nor surety bond agents nor an attorney.

The first group of arrestees who can afford a bail bond minimize the risk of contact between strangers and their risk of contracting coronavirus. The second group of arrestees who cannot afford a bail bond maximize the risk of contact between strangers and their risk of getting infected with coronavirus.

Higher Chance of Being Wrongfully Convicted

Think about it. If someone is arrested for a crime they did not commit, and they cannot afford to get out on a bail bond, what are their options?

They do not have money to get out, which means they definitely won’t have money to hire a lawyer. So they will get a court appointed lawyer. These are not the highest quality lawyers. Okay now, let’s add in the coronavirus epidemic. People in jail are sitting ducks for contracting the virus. Sharing a jail cell with other arrestees, sharing a cafeteria, and being in close proximity to other arrestees in other common areas.

The definition of being wrongfully convicted is getting a guilty verdict at trial for something you didn’t do or voluntarily pleading guilty to get out of jail. This puts your morals at odds with your health. What would you choose? Luckily, most of us will never be put in this predicament. But unfortunately, this is reality for most people who cannot afford to satisfy their bail bond. Practically speaking, a person’s survival is the most important instinct of a person’s psyche. So it will result in the large majority of people in jail pleading guilty to get out of jail so they avoid the chance of dying in jail.

What is their alternative? To plead not guilty and request a jury trial? Courts are shut down in Austin and throughout Texas. So if someone pleads not guilty, they will be waiting for their jury trial indefinitely. This results in someone potentially sitting in jail for a crime they did not commit longer than the punishment length for the offense. This is oppression. This is a unique time in history that exposes the negatives of the bail bond system and hopefully the Texas Legislature will do something to protect the weak and innocent. If we don’t protect these people as a society, what are we doing?

What Happens If You Can’t Afford an Austin Bail Bond?

Everyone in Austin who is arrested by the police will go to Central Booking located at 500 W 10th St. When they’re downstairs in booking, they sit next to each other in blue benches, and everyone has only one thing on their mind — which bail bonds place to call.

If they don’t get out with a Lawyer within 4 hours of them getting booked in, then they get moved to a jail cell. The jail capacity is only around 100 people. Everyone in jail is thinking about how to get out. They get to use the phones right after they get booked and right after magistration. But besides that, they get to use the phones whenever the guards let them. Most people are frantically calling their family members to try to help them post a bail bond to get them out. Some people ask them to call a certain lawyer that has represented them in the past.

This is what a jail cell looks like.


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Meal Schedule

5am Breakfast
10am Lunch
3pm Dinner

Most meals are similar to the following: 2 slices of bologna, 4 slices of white bread, and an apple. This is not a nutritious meal by any means.

And if they don’t get out within 48 hours, then they get transferred to the Travis County Correctional Complex located at 3614 Bill Price Rd., Del Valle, TX 78617. The only exception is 17-year-olds. They stay at the jail and don’t get transferred. At the jail, there are lists of bail bond companies posted by the phones.

The bus ride over to the main jail in Austin is a scary ride for those who have not made this trip before. This is very depressing. You feel like a real prisoner at this point. You feel like you have no way out. When people arrive at the main jail, they have access to more call times. They have free time and common areas available to make phone calls during designated times. The first call is usually at 6am in the morning, then around noon, then after dinner at around 5pm, then last phone calls can be made around 9pm. The majority of these phone calls are centered around helping them post their bail bond.

At the Travis County Correctional Complex, they have a cafeteria where they get more varieties of food options where arrestees can work in the jail as a cook so they maximize their good credit time and can get out of jail faster. At breakfast, lunch, or dinner, the main conversation going around the tables is which bail bonds company are they talking with and who gives payment plans. Most people in jail had a job before they got arrested, so if they are on the outside in the free world, they can work and collect a paycheck and retroactively pay for their freedom. But most bail bonds places don’t offer payment plans because this is riskier for them. They want to be paid upfront.

There is a saying among people in jail, “Commissary is necessary.” Friends and family can send a commissary, which is an allowance for food and essential items. The commissary sent by family and friends doesn’t count towards the arrestee’s weekly commissary allowances. The weekly maximum amount is $100 in total. https://www.tcsheriff.org/inmate-jail-info/securepak. This band-aid approach to make life a little bit more comfortable on the inside is misguided. They should save up to get their loved one out of jail with a bail bondsman.

How COVID Can Eliminate Austin Bail Bonds

Table of Contents

  • How COVID Can Eliminate Austin Bail Bonds
  • Judges are Scared to Sign Personal Bonds during Pandemic, Resulting in Increase in Austin Bail Bonds
  • Homeless People Don’t Want to Get Out of Jail with an Austin Bail Bondsman

How COVID Can Eliminate Austin Bail Bonds

There have been a few inmates that have tested positive for coronavirus. All these inmates could not afford to pay an Austin Bail Bondsman. In addition, there have been a few guards as well who have tested positive. It is difficult to maintain social distancing in jail, where there are confined spaces. Normally, there are cafeterias in the Travis County Correctional Complex. The solution is for guards to bring food and water to the inmates’ cells directly. There are common showers. Inmates can only take shifts taking showers and must sanitize whenever they are done. There are common areas for watching TV and playing cards, which have been cut in favor of recreation time outside. There are basketball hoops and weight equipment, but those activities are discouraged as well. This is proof that Austin Bail Bondsman discriminates against the poor. Having the money to pay the bail bond by paying an Austin Bail Bondsman or an Austin Bail Bond Lawyer are the only two possible ways to get out of jail.

In addition, there is no court allowed in person. If someone wants to fight their case in a jury trial, that is not an option during this time period. Unless they can get out of jail with an Austin Bail Bondsman or convince the judge to let out under house arrest. So trial dates are tentatively set for at least into Fall 2020. So people who want to get out can plead guilty and get out. Courts are holding Zoom video conferences for plea deals. This is a huge blow to the constitutional guarantee of the right to a speedy trial. People are at risk of dying in jail if they want to assert their right to a jury trial. Therefore, between the two options, most people choose the only option that will get them out of jail, which is pleading guilty.

People who have gotten out of jail have already for the most part. The ones who are waiting for their trials and who do not have the money to pay an Austin Bail Bond business just are sitting in jail. Their families are hard-pressed to come up with the money for their bail bonds now when most service industry jobs have been cut and the economy is down.

In addition, bars are closed. So people are committing less common crimes like DWI’s. Drug Possession charges are down too because people who are recreational users find it risky to come directly into contact with drug dealers. And since there are no bars and strip clubs open, people are partying less. Weddings have decreased as well. So with less partying, there is less of a need to obtain drugs to feel good. With people being home more, the only exception is Assault Family Violence charges.

Austin Bail Bondsman makes a living posting bonds. And with fewer arrests, there is less demand for Austin Bail Bondsman. And with the liberal granting of people’s release by Pretrial Services, more and more people can get out for free. This policy was implemented only a month before coronavirus became a pandemic. These two new developments combined decreased the business of Austin Bail Bondsman drastically.

In addition, Police Officers have been encouraged to write tickets for people to appear in court at a later date and to do a walkthrough than to arrest them and take them to jail. Police officers have also been ordered not to arrest people for certain misdemeanor warrants during COVID. This is a great step by the judges and Police Department to work together to minimize the spread of COVID.

Judges are Scared to Sign Personal Bonds during Pandemic, Resulting in Increase in Austin Bail Bonds

Personal Bonds are under attack by the Texas Governor Greg Abbott. On March 20, 2020, the Governor signed an executive order prohibiting two groups of people from getting personal bonds.

  1. previously been convicted of a crime involving physical violence
  2. currently arrested for a crime involving physical violence

How will this affect jail release?

This will affect jail release greatly. Bail bonds is the traditional way to get out of jail in most counties in Texas. But Austin is one of few counties in Texas that allows lawyers to represent clients when getting out of jail. This saves people time and money. By paying a lawyer to get out of jail, their money goes towards their legal representation. Lawyers are the only ones who go to court to represent people and produce a better outcome for the court and for the jail. In addition, lawyers can go talk to the judge at the jail or assigned to the case to advocate to remove restrictive bond conditions that may not apply. Bail bondsmen cannot advocate for fewer bond conditions. And bail bondsmen won’t go to court for people. They are insurance or surety salesmen who make their money from getting people out of jail and that’s it. The moment someone walks out of the jail entrance, their money’s gone.

This executive order in effect is a scare tactic that is supposed to let the public know that Greg Abbott is tough on crime.

This has many loopholes associated with it. There are three ways to get out of jail. The first guaranteed way is to pay cash in full to the jail. The second way is with a bail bondsman. If people were wealthy enough, this doesn’t block their way to get out of jail nor does it affect their livelihood. But for people who are not wealthy, they don’t have enough money to pay cash in full to the jail or enough money to pay for a bail bond as a way to get out of jail. Even if they do have enough money to pay for a bail bond, they are paying for the bail bond with their food and rent money. So this will create a catastrophic ripple effect of perpetuating poverty. This executive order by the governor places wealth and access to wealth as the determining factor of pretrial liberty.

Unfortunately, judges think they can’t let people out of jail on a personal bond for people with a prior conviction involving physical violence or current arrest for a crime involving physical violence. A group of judges even filed a lawsuit asking the Texas Supreme Court to clarify what they can and cannot do. The Texas Supreme Court said this to the county judges, paraphrased in layman’s terms.

“You have a job, do it. Don’t come to your big brother up here because you are scared of a potential threat asking me how to rule.

You are charged with doing a job.

It’s a violation of the separation of powers for you to be prosecuted for doing your job.

And, you have immunity from prosecution for doing your job…

So do it.”

So all in all, judges can do what they want. They have judicial immunity. They can’t get in trouble for interpreting conflicting laws and deciding which law governs. This is a third-grade government, separation of powers. There are a few judges that are taking a stand. Judge Earle of County Court at Law #7 and Judge Chu of Justice of the Peace #5. They are saying judges can do what they want.

In conclusion, the right to Personal Bond cannot be taken away from the citizens of Austin. Judges should be comforted by a Supreme Court opinion and a reminder that they can’t get in trouble with the law because they are the law.

For you, that still means your family and friends can still get out of jail with a lawyer. We might just have to talk to more than one to get them out.

Homeless People Don’t Want to Get Out of Jail with an Austin Bail Bondsman

Most people who get arrested want to get out of jail as fast as possible. This is when hiring a lawyer or Austin Bail Bondsman is a good idea. However, this is not the case for everyone. The exception is homeless people. You might be thinking to yourself, what about homeless shelters? Well, there aren’t enough.

There are many people who had a rough patch in their life where they went to jail once for a small drug possession case and they could not afford an Austin Bail Bondsman or a lawyer and instead, got a court-appointed lawyer who told them they can get out of jail if they plead guilty. So they do. After they get back into the real world, they have a drug conviction on their records and they won’t get hired for a job. They end up losing their apartment and they lose everything because of their inability to get out of jail with an Austin Bail Bondsman or Lawyer so they can fight their case from the outside.

This is how people become homeless. Now that someone is homeless, they fight for survival. Some people live in their car if they have one. This is by far the safest option. What do they do for money? Some homeless people actually have a job so they afford food and save up for shelter.

The others? They beg for money on intersections or major sidewalks, like Guadalupe Street by the University of Texas campus. Or Congress Avenue where a lot of professionals work. At night, they sleep in a tent or with a sleeping bag by the side of the sidewalk. But in the winter, it’s too cold to sleep outside. So there are many homeless people who strategically get arrested so they can get food and shelter during the winter months. They know their cases will get reset by their court-appointed lawyer or they can request that their case get delayed. They will not try to get out with an Austin Bail Bondsman like most people. Then they will negotiate a sentence that will get them out in the spring like February when the coldest part of the winter has passed.

I go down to the jail a lot when families can’t afford an Austin Bail Bondsman and I help them get out of jail as their Lawyer. This was in the middle of December and a homeless man just got released from jail and he was trying to get arrested by peeing right outside of the jail where police officers go into the building. They didn’t arrest him. Then he walked up to the front entrance of the courthouse and started banging the doors. He wasn’t arrested. He was trying to get re-arrested so he could go back to jail where it was warm.

This is a loophole in the Austin Bail Bond System where homeless people exploit. For people who see being in jail as a benefit. There’s nothing you can do. If being in jail is not a consequence for them, but an advantage, they have successfully hacked the system. For them, the key is committing a low-level misdemeanor or a low-level drug offense that they can reasonably plea out for only a few months.