All defendants who have been charged with a crime in Texas have the right to a bail hearing, with the exception of individuals charged with a capital offense. In order to post bail, you must provide or pledge cash or real property to secure your release. If you fail to appear in court on the appointed date, you may forfeit your right to the assets.
If you cannot afford to pay the full amount of the bail, you also have the option of securing the services of a bail bondsman. A bail bondsman posts bail on your behalf and charges you a percentage of the bail amount as a fee. If you fail to appear in court as scheduled, the bail bondsman may hire a bounty hunter to forcibly return you to custody. Texas law permits licensed bounty hunters to exercise arrest warrants within certain guidelines.
Procedure for Setting Bail
The guidelines for setting and posting bail are outlined under Article 17.15 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure. Specifically, this section states that:
- Bail shall be sufficiently high to give reasonable assurance that the undertaking will be complied with.
- The power to require bail is not to be so used as to make it an instrument of oppression.
- The nature of the offense and the circumstances under which it was committed are to be considered.
- The ability to make bail is to be regarded, and proof may be taken upon this point.
- The future safety of a victim of the alleged offense and the community shall be considered.
If you’re arrested for a crime, a magistrate judge has up to 48 hours to set bail in your case. The magistrate is not required to allow the defendant to post bail and in some cases, this request may be denied. If your request is denied, you will have to remain in jail until your trial concludes or your case is otherwise resolved.
Judges may base their decision to grant bail on a number of factors. When deciding whether to release a defendant on bail, the court may look at:
- Your work history
- Your family relationships
- Ties to the community, such as church or volunteer involvement
- The length of time you’ve lived in the area
- Your prior criminal record
- Your previous history of complying with bond orders if applicable
- Whether you currently have any outstanding bonds
- Whether any aggravating circumstances are involved in your case
The goal of bail is to allow you your freedom while still ensuring that you will appear in court to face the charges against you. If the judge feels that you may be a flight risk or that you pose a danger to yourself or the community, bail is likely to be denied. Your criminal defense attorney’s job is to present evidence and arguments to the court which demonstrate that you are deserving of release on bail.