Bail process in Dallas.
The first step is to be booked and processed, which generally takes longer in larger facilities. The biggest in the metropolitan area is Dallas County Jail – the 7th largest in the country. However, there are 26 municipalities in Dallas County and state law requires all to have bail magistrates. A magistrate can rely on a bail schedule for a misdemeanor or vary from the schedule depending on the circumstances of the crime. In some cases, bail is determined almost immediately and the defendant at that point can contact a relative or friend or hire a bail bond agent. For more serious crimes, the process is lengthier.
Types of Bail in Dallas.
There are four options for posting a bond to be released from jail in Dallas. The choice will often have to do with the amount of the bond. The options include:
- Personal recognizance. Referred to as a PR Bond, this option does not require the defendant put up any money for bail – although a fee less than $100 is included. A bond amount is determined, and if the defendant does not meet all bond obligations, he or she – or a co-signer – must pay the full amount of the bond. PR bond is only used for less serious crimes and when defendant have a clean or mostly clean criminal record.
- Cash bond. A cash bond requires that the entire amount of the bail be paid in cash. The advantage to a cash bond is that most of the money is returned as long as the defendant shows up for all scheduled court hearings. However, paying a cash bond reduces the amount of money available to hire a lawyer.
- Property bond. The court will require a lien be placed on the property, after the available equity in that property is confirmed. This type of bond often takes several days or longer to complete because of the paperwork involved.
- Surety bond. A defendant who does not have the cash to pay the entire amount of bail can hire a bail bond agent and pay only a percentage of the bail amount. The agent guarantees the entire amount of bail, and the defendant – or a co-signer – completes a promissory note or other legal document. If the defendant violates the bail agreement with the court, the bail bond agent pays the entire amount of bail to the court and then turns to the defendant or co-signer for reimbursement.
Requirements for co-signers.
Most bail agreements require both personal and financial information, and a co-signer should expect to have their credit-worthiness analyzed. For larger bonds, collateral may be required as well. A co-signer does not need to be a relative to qualify – anyone over the age of 18 can be a co-signer, if approved by the bail bond company.
Bond costs and options.
Texas law does not specifically regulate the premium that can be charged by bail bond companies. In practice, companies charge between 7 percent and 20 percent – with the higher percentages charged for lower bail amounts. The charge for a surety bond for a felony is typically 10 percent, and many companies will offer payment options for larger bond amounts.