A bail bond is essentially something offered by a defendant to ensure that he or she appears in court while a case is pending. In Texas, there are several types of bail bonds. The general idea behind a bond is that if someone has something to lose by not appearing in court (aside from being re-arrested, of course), the person is more likely to attend scheduled court appearances.
The Types of Bail Bonds
There are three common types of bonds in Texas:
- Surety bonds
- Cash bonds
- Personal recognizance (PR) bonds
The most common type of bond in a case punishable by jail time is a surety bond. A surety bond is generally backed by an insurance company and offered through a bondsman. A person who is released on a surety bond pays a bondsman a fee for securing the full amount of bail. For example, a person for whom a $5,000 bail is set may pay the bonding company $500 that is nonrefundable. The bonding company becomes financially responsible to the court for the full amount of the bail.
A person is entitled to make a cash bond whenever bail is set. However, cash bonds are less common because a person must pay the full amount of bail. If the defendant appears at all court settings and does not violate any conditions of the bond, the amount paid for the cash bond will be returned after the case is complete.
Personal Recognizance (PR) Bonds
Personal recognizance, or PR bonds, are bonds that do not require a defendant to pay money in order to be released. A person is released on his or her promise to appear at court and abide by any other conditions imposed by the court. If a person fails to appear, the bond will be revoked, and the person will likely have to make a cash or surety bond in order to be re-released.
Can I Be Held Without Bail?
In Texas, the only cases for which someone can be held without bail indefinitely are capital murder cases where there is “proof evident”. Habitual felony offenders (those charged with a third degree or higher felony with two previous consecutive prison sentences) may be held without bail for a limited period of time. In all other cases, the court must set bail. However, if a person violates conditions of an existing bond that endangers the safety of the community or the complainant, a court may revoke the bond and hold that person without bond until the case is complete.
What Happens If I Don’t Follow My Bond Conditions?
At a minimum, a person must appear to court as scheduled and not commit any additional crimes while on bond. Some courts set more comprehensive and specific bond conditions such as abstinence from alcohol and drugs, and no contact with certain persons. People who fail to abide by the conditions placed on a bond are subject to revocation and forfeiture of the bond. If a court revokes a bond, the defendant will be placed into custody until new bail is set and another bond is made. In some instances, the court may be willing to reinstate a bond after revocation, but a person who violates bond conditions has a high likelihood of having to make a new bond in order to be re-released.