Messina Madson & Kendall Castello, MC Criminal Law
Bail Bonds in Dallas
Bail Bonds in Dallas, TX, and the North Texas area
Getting out of jail is often the most immediate need faced by our clients. As criminal defense attorneys, we’ve been helping people bond out of the Dallas County jail and other detention facilities for years.
To clarify, posting bond, or bail, is very different than getting probation or parole*—though all of these can help limit your time behind bars. So let’s start with a basic definition.
Bail vs. Bond
The words “bail” and “bond” are used interchangeably and refer to the same thing. Both terms refer to money that arrested persons pay the court as a guarantee that they will show up for court and behave themselves while awaiting trial or negotiating their case. A bond is set by a judge who has access to the probable cause affidavit and the person’s criminal history. The bond may be posted in full (called a cash bond) or through a surety or bonding company (called a surety bond).
Cash Bond: A cash bond refers to the full amount of a bond paid at the time of release from jail. The money posted serves as a guarantee that the arrestee will show up for court and abide by any bond conditions. When the case is resolved, most of the bond money is returned to the person who posted the bond (minus a small processing fee).
Surety Bond: At times the bail, or bond, can be set so high that posting the full cash amount is difficult or impossible, even with the help of family and friends. In such a situation, an individual can use a bonding company to post the bond. Those who use a bonding company pay a percentage of the bond (usually around 10 percent). The bonding company may also ask for some form of collateral. The percentage paid to the bonding company is never returned. The bonding company monitors arrestees and guarantees they show up for court. The bonding company may also assist in finding and arresting them if bond conditions are not followed.
How is the bond amount set?
The judge sets the bond amount, based on multiple factors, including: the arrestee’s criminal history, the level of offense charged, and the unique facts of a case. The law in Texas requires that a person be presented to a judge for arraignment within 72 hours of arrest. At arraignment an accused person enters a plea of not guilty, is informed of the charges, and has a bond set.
In the Dallas area, a person may be taken to a municipal (or city) jail and arraigned there before being transferred to the Dallas County jail. A municipality bond can sometimes be higher (or lower) than the normal county bond. Representation by an experienced attorney can help navigate all of these procedures and negotiations, which can save an arrestee hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars.
Is it possible to get bail bonds lowered?
Yes. Our firm is often successful in reducing the bond amount. A judge may reduce a bond based on an agreement with the District Attorney’s Office or in exchange for other conditions—such as no contact with the other party. We also can set the case for a hearing and ask the judge for reconsideration. All of this means that contacting an attorney prior to posting bond can prove advantageous—especially if you have limited financial resources.
Can attorneys serve as a bonding company?
In most states, the answer is no as serving in this capacity could create a conflict of interest. In Texas, however, an attorney can legally act as a bonding agent; however, Madson Castello Law does not serve in both positions. Here’s why: if a client does not appear for court or the attorney fears the client will not appear, an attorney on a bond can be torn between acting in the client’s best interests or in the best interests of protecting the guaranteed portion of the bond. We never want to be in a position where we are part of a warrant being issued for our clients or assisting with their arrest. That being said, we work with our clients to match them with local bond professionals who we trust to be ethical and fair in their pricing and monitoring.
What happens if there is an immigration (ICE) hold?
A person will still go before the magistrate and have a bond set, but a “hold” will be placed on any release. This means that even if someone posts the bond, the person will not be released. Based on the hold, the arrestee will be held in jail until immigration officials make a decision on next steps. So, if your loved one has, or may have, an immigration hold, you should check with a trusted attorney to see if a hold is in place before posting bond. Otherwise, you may be out the money without a release to show for it. The arrestee will be detained by immigration court rather than being released.
What is a “hold”?
A hold is a delay on the release of an arrestee placed by another agency so that they may take custody of the person. The most common types of holds include:
- immigration (as described above)
- another law enforcement agency (possibly another county or state)
- federal hold (placed by the federal government), or
- parole hold
Can you get a bond for a probation violation?
The short answer is yes. But the process to get the bond set often takes longer and, in certain situations, a judge may hold a person without bond. Once again, a good attorney can help get a bond set.
Should I post bond or hire an attorney first?
When someone is arrested, it’s understandable to panic and bond that person out immediately. That may be the right decision, but not always. Some things to consider in making your decision:
- Is the person capable of living up to bond conditions upon immediate release? If the answer is no, you may be better off leaving the person in jail until you can get help (i.e., a drug rehabilitation facility). If you post a bond, and the person is immediately rearrested, you will have lost the money and also face a bigger bond.
- What is your budget for helping the person arrested? If you can’t afford to bond the person out and then hire a great attorney, you should consider hiring the attorney first. A good attorney can save you hundreds or thousands of dollars in bond costs, and this money is better spent hiring quality representation.
- Is there potential for a hold being added? If an arrestee is likely to have an immigration or other hold, but doesn’t have the hold in place now, you may consider posting the bond immediately before the hold appears.
If you want to discuss your options for your specific case, call us today.
Lastly-Remember a bond is different from probation or parole. Probation is monitoring after a plea of guilty. Parole is when someone is has served some of their sentence in custody and has been released and under monitoring in the community until the sentence is completed. If you need help with these issues, we also can serve as your parole or probation lawyer.
Want more resources? Take a look at these tools:
Link: Know your Rights