Have a question or concern about bail bonds in Texas? There’s an excellent chance Fort Worth criminal defense attorney Benson Varghese covers it in this highly informative video.
Let’s talk about bonds in Texas. A criminal case begins formally with the arrest. Once a person’s been arrested, they’re going to be taken in front of a magistrate judge, and that magistrate will set a bond.
There are a number of factors that the court is to consider in setting that bond. First and foremost, what is the nature and what are the circumstances of the alleged offense? Second, the judge is to set a bond that’s sufficiently high to secure that person’s appearance in court. In other words, if the bond is set too low, the person really doesn’t have an incentive to come back to court. However, the judge has to consider the person’s ability to make that bond, and the bond is not to be an instrument of oppression, so the bond can’t be set so high that individuals who are indigent or simply don’t have the means are in jail when people who can afford to bond out are released. The court finally is to consider the safety of the community and the safety of the alleged victim in setting the bond amount.
Once a bond has been set, there are a number of ways that bond can be satisfied. The judge could set the bond as a personal recognizance bond. That means you don’t have to pay any money to get out of custody and you’ll never have to pay any money for bond as long as you abide by the conditions of bond and you show up to court when you’re supposed to show up. The hook is if you don’t show up or if you violate a condition of your bond, then that amount becomes due.
Next, a person could post a cash bond. The cash bond is exactly what it sounds like. It’s someone going down to the county generally and posting in cash the full amount of the bond. Once the case is resolved, the cash bond will be returned to the person who posted the bond. For example, if your spouse comes up to the bond desk and posts a cash bond, they’re going to get a check in the mail when your case is over for that entire bond amount. It doesn’t matter how the case is resolved as long as it’s resolved. It could be a dismissal. It could be a no bill by the grand jury. It could be a conviction. You might even go to prison, but your bond is satisfied as long as you meet your bond conditions and you show up to court.
The third way to make a bond is to use a bondsman, and a bondsman’s going to charge you a fee in return for the bondsman promising the full amount of your bond. The bondsman may also add additional conditions. For instance, it’s very common for bondsman to say you’ll have to check in with me once a month or even once a week and you’ll have to abide by those additional conditions set by the bondsman in order to stay out on bond.
If you fail to abide by the conditions that your bondsman sets, they will issue what’s called an AFRS. It’s a request for them to go off your bond, and in turn, a warrant will be issued for your arrest.
Whether or not you have bond conditions that stem from your bondsman, the court will set some bond conditions. In Texas, there are some bond conditions that you should expect in any case. For instance, you’re going to be told that you cannot commit any new audience that you have to show up to court. Whenever you have a court setting. If your charge is an allegation of assault, whether that’s sexual assault or not, the court will impose a condition that says have no contact directly or indirectly with the alleged victim. In some circumstances, a court will entertain an attorney approaching and asking for a bond condition to be modified. So for instance, if the alleged victim is a family member and there’s been no history of abuse and perhaps the alleged victim needs that person to be around the home, it’s possible for the judge to amend the condition so that it is no injurious or harmful contact instead of no contact at all.
There are also conditions that apply in cases where there’s a child victim. In addition to saying have no contact directly or indirectly with the victim, the court may also say that you have to wear a GPS monitor. Remember, however, a bond is not meant to be an instrumentality of oppression, so if an individual can’t afford a GPS monitor, the law actually provides that there’s grant money that can be used to either offset the cost of the GPS or actually pay for it entirely.
In cases involving family violence allegations, the court has the ability and is in fact instructed under our law to add additional bond conditions. Specifically, you should expect some sort of GPS monitoring if you’re charged with a family violence offense or an offense of a sexual nature. Remember, however, a bond is not meant to be an instrumentality of oppression, so if a person can’t afford a GPS monitor, there’s actually state funding to offset or fully pay for the cost of a GPS device.
Under Texas law, a person can be given bond conditions that ensures their appearance in court that provides for the safety of the community or provides for the safety of the alleged victim. When the judge is imposing a bond condition, it has to be reasonably related to the underlying charge or one of these concerns. So, for example, a bond condition that you’ll sometimes see in Tarrant County is that a person not access the internet or use certain social media sites. This restriction, though, needs to be somehow related to the underlying offense or one of these concerns.
In family violence cases, when the judge is imposing something as restrictive as a GPS monitor, there are a number of factors that the judge must consider. The factors that a judge must consider in deciding whether or not to impose a GPS restriction on someone charged with a family violence offense includes the likelihood that using a GPS monitor will deter the defendant from trying to kill, injure, stalk, or otherwise threaten the alleged victim.
If there’s a bond condition that’s not reasonably related to the underlying offense, it doesn’t ensure the safety of the community, and it has nothing to do with the safety of the alleged victim, that issue needs to be brought in front of the judge, and typically, instead of going to the magistrate judge, if the case has been filed, we’ll either be going to the district court or county court judge who is actually presiding over your case.
We hope you found this information about bail bonds useful. For more information about bail bonds, please visit our page on Fort Worth Bail Bonds Lawyer.
For information regarding an inmate’s charges and fines, please visit the Tarrant County website.
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