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.
- Pay the full bond amount in cash
- Pay a lawyer to advocate for your release with a judge
- 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:
- Good credit, OR
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
|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
|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.
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/bond-info. 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.