Bond Process In Texas


Securing a reasonable Bond is one of the most important steps of the legal process. It is easier to resolve a case in a favorable manner when a Defendant is released on bond because they have the opportunity to show that they can follow bond conditions and they can do things that the Prosecutor or Judge can take into consideration. For example, if a client is charged with a DWI, they can take online alcohol classes and do a substance abuse evaluation that could sway the Prosecutor into giving a good offer. Although it is one of the most important steps, there can be some confusion on how the process works. This Blog gives an overview of the Bond process in Texas.

Bond Process

Although the timing and specific process of being arrested, arraigned, and given a bond vary by jurisdiction, the main components are the same throughout Texas. The steps that you can expect after you are arrested are listed below:

  1. Arrest and Booking - When individuals are arrested in Texas, they are usually taken to a jail in the county that they were arrested in for the booking process. During this process, personal information may be collected before they are placed in a cell to await arraignment.
  2. Setting Bail - After the booking process is completed the arraignment process will take place. At this hearing, a magistrate judge will formally read the charges against the Defendant and will determine whether to grant bond and how much that bond will be. The amount of the bond is influenced by several factors, such as the type of offense, criminal history of the Defendant, whether the Defendant is a potential flight risk, and the Defendant’s ties to the local community.
  3. Posting Bail - If the Defendant or someone they know can afford the bond set by the Judge, they can post this amount to the jail and the Defendant will be released after the jail processes them out.
  4. Bail Bondsmen - When the bond amount is too high for the Defendant to pay in full, they can work with a bondsmen to pay it, but they will not get that money back.
  5. Release - Once bail is officially posted, the Defendant is required to be released from custody under the condition that they will attend all future hearings.
  6. Court Proceedings - The case then proceeds through Texas’s Court system, including hearings and possible trial. If the Defendant makes all appearances and follows bond conditions, the bail amount will be returned at the closure of the case.

Types of Bonds

There are several types of bonds that can be given based on the type of offense, the Defendant’s criminal history, and other factors. In general, the main types of bonds that can be given are cash bonds, surety bonds, personal recognizance bonds, and mental health bonds. These types of Bonds are explained below.

  1. Surety Bonds - A surety bond involves a third party, most commonly a licensed bail bondsman, who charges a non-refundable fee and posts the full bond on behalf of the Defendant. Bondsmen usually require 10% or more of the bond, and they will post the rest of it. For example, if a Defendant has a $50,000 bond, a bondsman will generally require the Defendant to pay $5,000 to be released. The catch with this type of bond is that the Defendant will never get that money back, opposed to a cash bond that they will get back if they make all of the necessary appearances.
  2. Cash Bonds - This type of bond requires the full bond amount to be paid by the Defendant and does not involve a bondsman. If the Defendant makes all of the required court appearances, they will receive this money back once the case is resolved.
  3. Personal Recognizance Bonds - Commonly referred to as a ‘PR Bond’, this unique type of bond allows the Defendant to be released without having to pay bail. This is usually only given to Defendants charged with non-serious crimes or Defendants that have minimal criminal history. If the Defendant attends all court appearances, they will never have to pay a PR bond.
  4. Mental Health Bonds – Mental Health Bonds are given by a judge when a Defendant has mental health issues that can be better addressed outside of jail. To get this type of bond, a Defendant will need to have a Mental Health Evaluation given by a doctor, and the Judge will determine whether or not to release the Defendant based on the results of that evaluation. In order to be released, the Defendant will need to show the Judge that they have a plan in place to get the mental help they need outside of jail.
  5. No Juvenile BondsAs discussed in our Juvenile Blog, the juvenile system in Texas has different rules than the adult criminal justice system. Juveniles are not given bonds and go through a different process to determine if they will be released. This involves an intake process and a possible detention hearing to determine if a Juvenile will be held while they resolve the charges against them. For a more in-depth explanation of the Juvenile process, check out the Juvenile Blog on our website.

Common Bond Conditions

When a Defendant is released on bond, a judge will almost always assess conditions that the Defendant must follow while out. If a Defendant violates these conditions, the Judge has the power to revoke the bond and order that the Defendant be brought back into custody. Furthermore, the Prosecutor will be less willing to offer a favorable plea deal if the Defendant shows that they can’t follow bond conditions, because in the Prosecutor’s mind it shows that they will not be successful on probation. If this occurs, there is a chance that the Defendant’s attorney can convince the Judge to reissue a bond amount. Below is a list of common Bond conditions that a Judge may order:

  1. Appearance in all Court Proceedings - The Defendant must appear for all scheduled hearings unless alternate arrangements are made beforehand. Failure to appear in court may result in the bond being revoked and an arrest warrant being issued.
  2. No New Offenses - The Defendant must not commit any new offenses while on bond.
  3. No Contact Orders - These orders relate to cases involving victims or witnesses. The Defendant may be ordered to have no contact with any individuals associated with the case.
  4. Travel Restrictions -This may include the surrender of the Defendant’s passport and restriction from traveling outside a designated geographical area without official permission by the court.
  5. Curfews - The Defendant may be required to adhere to a curfew.
  6. Drug and Alcohol Prohibition - The Defendant may be ordered to refrain from using drugs and alcohol and may be required to provide random urine tests to check for drugs and alcohol.
  7. Firearm Restriction – The Defendant may be prohibited from possessing firearms.
  8. Employment and Educational Requirements - The Defendant may be required to maintain stable employment or attend school while on bond.
  9. Electronic Monitoring - The Defendant may be required to wear an electronic device to track their movements. This is called an electric leg monitor and is generally used in conjunction with geographic restrictions and curfews.
  10. Reporting to Pretrial Services - The Defendant may be required to check-in with pretrial services or a probation officer.

Criteria Judges Use When Determining Bond

When a judge sets a bond, they consider several factors to determine how much it will be. A judge can also use these factors to determine if they will deny setting a bond. Common factors judges consider when setting a bond include:

  1. Severity of the Offense - The seriousness of the crime is a significant factor in determining the bond amount. More severe offenses may warrant higher amounts.
  2. Criminal History - The Defendant's criminal history, including prior convictions and pending charges can influence the judge's decision.
  3. Flight Risk - The judge will assess the likelihood of the Defendant failing to appear in court. Factors such as ties to the community, employment status, relationships, and past failures to appear in court may be considered.
  4. Public Safety - The judge will consider whether releasing the Defendant poses a risk to public safety and the alleged victim.
  5. Financial Resources - The Defendant's ability to pay the bail amount is taken into account.
  6. Character Witnesses - Character witnesses may testify to talk about the Defendant's reputation and support in the community.
  7. Stability and Employment - The judge may consider the Defendant's stability and employment status as indicators of their likelihood to appear in court and be a productive member of society while out on bond.
  8. Pretrial Services Reports - Pretrial service agencies may conduct assessments and provide reports to the court which can offer valuable information about the Defendant's background and risk factors.
  9. History of Compliance - If the Defendant has a history of complying with court orders or previous bonds, this may work in their favor.

Bond Forfeiture

Bond forfeiture occurs when a Defendant who has been released on bail fails to appear in court as required. The court may order the forfeiture of the bond and assess an arrest warrant, resulting in the Defendant being taken back into custody. Also, this may result in the State keeping the money that the Defendant paid for the bond.

  1. Notice of Forfeiture - After the Defendant fails to appear, the court may issue a notice of forfeiture. This notice is typically sent to the individual who posted the bond and informs them that the Defendant has missed their court date.
  2. Show Cause Hearing - The court may also schedule a show cause hearing to determine if there were any valid reasons for the Defendant's failure to appear.
  3. Recovery and Arrest of the Defendant - If the Defendant cannot provide a valid reason for missing the court date, the court can order the bond forfeiture.
  4. Satisfying the Bond - The surety or bail bondsman is typically given a certain period to locate and surrender the Defendant to the court. If the Defendant is surrendered within this period, the bond may be reinstated, and the forfeiture may be set aside.
  5. Forfeiture Judgment - If the Defendant is not located within the specified time or is not surrendered, the court will enter a judgment of forfeiture. This judgment allows the court to collect the forfeited amount or collateral from the surety or bail bondsman.
  6. Collection of Forfeited Amount - The court may collect the forfeited bail amount from the surety or bail bondsman, who initially posted the bond on behalf of the Defendant.

Modifying Bond Conditions

A Defendant may file a motion to modify bond conditions and a judge will usually set a hearing to determine if it will be granted. This hearing will consist of the Defendant’s attorney asking them questions and the Prosecutor will be able to cross examine them. Also, the Defendant’s attorney might call their friends or family members as witnesses to show the judge that the Defendant has a need to modify the conditions and can be trusted. The judge will carefully consider the arguments presented by both parties and evaluate the reasons for requesting the modification. The judge may also consider factors such as the Defendant's compliance with existing bond conditions, nature of the offense, and the risk to public safety.

Navigating the bond process in Texas requires a comprehensive understanding of the legal issues involved. From securing release for a loved one to ensuring compliance with court requirements, the bond process demands precision and expertise. At McDaniel Law Group, we recognize the significance of a seamless bond procedure, and work hard to give our clients the best opportunity to be released. With our experienced team by your side, you can trust that your bond matters will be handled with the utmost diligence and professionalism. Let us simplify the complex, and alleviate the stress that often accompanies legal proceedings, allowing you to focus on what truly matters.