Texas Bail Laws: What You Need to Know
What happens if you or someone you love goes to jail in Texas? How does bail work? How do you go about getting a bail bond? What happens after you post bail? The answers to these common questions, as well as several others, are clearly outlined in Texas’s bail law. Though legal stipulations surrounding Texas bail are readily available to the public, legal jargon can be difficult to decipher. Below we break down Texas bail law into a more digestible outline for easier understanding.
Working With Bail Bondsmen in Texas
In most cases, when an incarcerated individual is issued a bond, the monetary amount of the bond is greater than that individual can supply on his or her own. In these instances, a bail bondsman can supply a bond to release the defendant from incarceration while he or she awaits trial.
To secure a bail bond, the defendant (or a representative of the defendant) must pay a bail bondsman approximately 10% to 20% of the total amount of the bail. He or she must also supply the bondsman with stipulated collateral to ensure the defendant will appear at all required court dates. The court then places a lien on that collateral if it is in the form of property. This lien allows the court to sell said collateral to pay for the full amount of the defendant’s bond in the case of bond forfeiture.
One thing to note: Texas law stipulates that no bail bondsman may supply a bond in excess of 10 times the total value of the property held as collateral. However, this rule does not apply to corporate sureties.
Supplying Individual Bail in Texas
In cases where the defendant (or a representative of the defendant) is capable of supplying the full amount of his or her own bond, he or she may do so. In such instances, the person supplying the bond must provide the court with either the full cash amount of the bond or the equivalent cash value in property. If the defendant appears at all required court dates, the cash or property (whichever is applicable) will be returned to the supplying individual upon completion of the defendant’s hearings.
Bond Forfeiture in Texas
What if the defendant fails to appear at all required court hearings? This situation is referred to as bond forfeiture by the state of Texas. When an individual forfeits bond, a court judgment takes place at the time of the missed appearance. The clerk of court must then supply a notice of forfeiture to the supplier of the bond through a citation.
A copy of the judgment must be supplied along with the forfeiture citation, according to the time frame set forth for civil actions. The surety supplier then has 20 days after the issuance of the citation to supply an answer to the court. The deadline for supplying said answer is 10:00 a.m. on the next Monday following that 20-day period.
When Is Payment Due After Bond Forfeiture?
If the bond supplier fails to answer the court’s citation within the allotted time period, the court has the right to enter a final judgment by default. If, however, the surety answers the citation, he or she is entitled to a notice of at least 45 days before any trial proceedings are set. When an individual forfeits bond, in certain cases, legal defenses may exonerate that individual. These defenses include:
- An invalid bond was issued.
- The defendant died before the forfeiture judgment was issued.
- The defendant was the victim of severe illness or an uncontrollable circumstance that prevented his or her appearance in court.
- The defendant was not presented with an indictment or information concerning his or her charges.
Bond Liability in Texas
If the defendant was issued a bond and fails to appear at all required court dates, the surety supplier then becomes liable for the full amount of the bond. If a bail bondsman supplied the bond in such instances, he or she (with written permission of the magistrate or judge) has the right to track down the defendant and turn that person over to police custody. However, the surety supplier can be relieved from liability in the following cases:
- The surety supplier surrenders the defendant into sheriff custody before forfeiture. This must occur in the county where the prosecution is currently pending.
- The surety supplier delivers an affidavit to the sheriff stating that the defendant is either in federal or state custody. This affidavit must be delivered to the sheriff in the county where the prosecution is currently pending.
Remission of Bond in Texas
After forfeiture, but before the final forfeiture judgment, the court may remit either a percentage or the full amount of the bond at their discretion. Within two years after a final judgment entry, the surety supplier may file a special bill of review with the court, asking that either all or part of the bond be remitted to the supplier. According to the court’s discretion, they may grant or deny the bill.
Need a Licensed Bail Bond Agent?
For nearly 30 years, our team at A Way Out Bail Bonds has been proudly serving the DFW metro area. We specialize in rapid release from all jails in the area, as well as the issuance of bonds by email or fax. For your convenience, we’re available 24/7, so whenever you need our expert assistance, we’re here for you. For fast, comprehensive bail bond assistance in Dallas, TX, give our team a call at (214) 760-9978 in Dallas County or (817) 261-2828 in Terrance County. You can also get in touch with us via our contact form, and a member of our team will reach out to you promptly.