A person who has been arrested in the Austin, Texas may be released from custody with the acquisition of a bail bond.
A bail bond is a legal contract between three different parties: the accused, the court, and the bondsman. This bond is essentially a legal promise that allows the accused to be released on bail, provided that they will show up at all future court dates. However, if the defendant does not show up to court, the bail is then forfeited.
If the defendant has enough money or property to cover the bail cost, they can post bail. Friends and family (and more recently Gofundmes) can provide the defendant with some of these funds, or even post bail entirely.
When the defendant is unable to come up with bail, they may instead desire to enlist the services of a bail bondsman. In exchange for getting the defendent out of jail, the Austin bail bondsman receives a non-refundable premium. If the defendant fails to appear in court, again, the bail is forfeited.
While bondsmen are entering into a legal contractural agreement through the bond and are financially accountable to the court, they will often receive some form of collateral and/or enlist a co-signor in order to educe their risk of loss. If you are thinking about posting bail, putting up collateral or cosigning for a loved one, it is important to review the terms and conditions with an attorney to make sure you understand your rights, risks and obligations.
If a defendant is unable to make bail, or does not wish to tie up his/her funds on bail, he should contact one of the following types of bail bondsmen:
Professional Bail Bondsman
This type of bail bondsman promises the court to pay a defendant’s bail if the defendant fails to show up. This promise is backed by the bondsman’s money and/or assets. Bail bondsmen usually require collateral before posting the bond and charge a non-refundable fee for their services. Bail bondsmen are licensed and regulated by the jurisdiction in which they operate.
A surety bondsman is a bail agent of an insurance company that backs bail bonds. With this added insurance, surety bondsmen are usually authorized to write larger and/or more bonds than other professional bondsmen. In fact, most federal and immigration bonds can only be written by surety bondsmen.
This may be a friend, family member or other person who is financing the bond as a personal favor to the defendant. Just as professional bondsmen are responsible for making sure the defendant appears in court, so is the accommodation bondsman. However, unlike a licensed bondsman, it is unlawful for an accommodation bondsman to accept compensation.
Types of Bonds
The nature of the bail bonds available in each case will depend on multiple bail factors, including the alleged crime(s), the criminal history of the accused and the jurisdiction where the arrest was made. The more common kinds of bonds are listed below:
While no money is required upfront, the defendant signs a contract agreeing to pay the court the bail bond amount if he or she does not appear in court.
As the name implies, if the bail is paid to the court in cash (depending on the jurisdiction, the court may also accept check, money order or credit card payment) a cash bond will be issued. Anyone can post cash bail on behalf of the defendant. Bail money will be returned at the end of the case unless the defendant fails to show up for court. A person who is unable to make cash bail may wish to contact a professional bail bondsman for help.
With a surety bail bond, a bail agent or bondsman posts bail on behalf of the defendant. In exchange, the bonding agent charges a non-refundable fee (usually 10 percent of the total bail) and gets collateral from the defendant or a co-signor (usually family or friends) to reduce the risk of loss. The bail bondsman is liable to the court if the defendant fails to return to court, and may enlist the help of co-signors and bail enforcement agents if he or she tries to skip bail.
A bail bond is in essence a financial guarantee made by or on behalf of an arrested person ensuring a defendant’s continued appearance in court until the completion of the case. If the defendant makes all court appearances the bond is cancelled and the bail money or property is returned. However, if the defendant fails to appear then the bail money or property is forfeited. If you or a loved one is in jail, speak to an attorney to learn more about bail bonds.