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
- Nice Judge
- No condition
- IID + PAM
- IID + SCRAM w/in 48 hrs
- IID + SCRAM w/in 48 hrs + AA twice a week
- IID + SCRAM in jail + AA twice a week (Cash or Bail Bond Only)
- Mean Judge
- No condition
- 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
- Nice Judge
- Random UA
- Revoke bond + Out-patient treatment
- In-patient treatment
- Mean Judge
- Random UA
- Revoke bond + Out-patient treatment
- 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
- Nice Judge
- No contact
- Revoke Bond + Add GPS in jail
- Nice Prosecutor
- No contact
- 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.