Bail Bond FAQ’s

January 15, 2011

By Collin County Criminal Defense Lawyer Jeremy Rosenthal

(214) 724-7065 24-hour jail release number

(972) 369-0577 (office)

1.  What is a Bond?

Bond is a dollar amount an arrested person needs to post as collateral for their release.  If the person doesn’t come to court when requested, then the bond can be forfeited and an arrest warrant issued.

2.  What is a Cash Bond?

A cash bond is where an arrested person (usually through their family) pays the full amount of the bond to secure the release on their own accord.  When the case is over, regardless of the outcome, the bond is refunded directly to the accused person.

3. What is a Bail Bond?

Often people can’t afford to pay cash for a bond.  A bail bond is where a 3rd party guarantor assures the county that if the person forfeits — that this person will pay the county it’s money.  Guarantors can be certain lawyers authorized by the county to do so or can be bail bond companies.

4.  How Does Bond get Set?

Bond can be set a handful of different ways.  If someone is arrested pursuant to an arrest warrant, then the warrant will usually have a bond amount already assigned.  In most cases, though, bond is set after the arrested person is taken to a magistrate judge who then sets the bond.

In Collin County, where a lawyer files a writ of habeas corpus in certain misdemeanors (usually DWI, Theft, or marijuana drug possession arrests), it will also trigger an immediate bond without having to wait to see the magistrate.  These are referred to locally as writ bonds.

Under Texas law, an automatic bond of $5,000 should be set on any misdemeanor offense where the accused has not been taken to a magistrate within 24-hours after the arrest under Tex.Code.Crim.P. 17.033(a) and $10,000 bond for felonies after 48-hours.

5.  Can a Non-Lawyer File a Writ of Habeas Corpus?

No.  A writ bond is a formal pleading filed by one person on behalf of another.  That requires a license to practice law.

6.  Are there Other Reasons to Hire a Lawyer for a Writ Bond in Collin County?

Yes.  An attorney can obviously do far more than just file the writ.    A lawyer can meet with your loved one in custody to give them legal advice they can use if there is an ongoing investigation and help to answer questions they may have.  Also, the attorney can usually give you instant professional analysis of the case to answer some of the many questions the family may have.

7.  Can a Lawyer Also do a Bail Bond?

Yes.  Some lawyers are also approved by their counties to be sureties on bonds.  For example, I am authorized to write bonds for people arrested in Collin County.  This allows me to both file the writ and be a surety so that my client saves money in the transaction by not having to both pay my fee and pay a cash bond in addition.  You should ask any lawyer you are dealing with if they are also approved by the County.  Also, any lawyer acting as a surety is acting as that person’s attorney of record pursuant to Texas Occupation Code 1704.163(2).

8.  How Do Bail Bonds Work?

Most bail bond companies charge a fee that is a percentage of the over-all bond in exchange for being the guarantor with the County.  For example, someone with a $10,000 bond may pay a bondsman a fee of $1,000 (or 10%).  The bondsman will then inform the county that if the person does not go to Court to resolve their case, the bondsman may be liable for the entire amount to the County.  A bondsman will usually take steps to make sure that the person is aware of their court date, and if necessary, assist in the apprehension of someone that has ‘skipped’ bail so that they don’t have to pay the county in the case of a default.  A bondsman can file an application with the Court to be discharged from the bond if they feel the defendant may not appear for court.  This filing can result in a warrant and arrest of the defendant.

9.  Can a Bail Bondsman Refer a Lawyer to Me?

Texas Occupations Code 1704.304(a) criminalizes certain activity by bondsman and says, “A bail bond surety or an agent of a bail bond surety may not recommend or suggest to a person for whom the bail bond surety executes a bond the employment of an attorney or law firm in connection with a criminal offense.”  Also a bail bondsman can lose their license if they, “recommend(s) to a client the employment of a particular attorney or law firm in a criminal case.”  See Tex.Occ.C. 1704.252(11).

Getting a loved one out of jail can be a trying experience.  The number one priority is taking care of your friend or family member.  There is no such thing as a bad question when your dealing with a bail bond company or an attorney.

*Jeremy F. Rosenthal is an attorney licensed to practice law in the State of Texas and is authorized to write surety bonds in Collin County, Texas.  Nothing in this article is intended to be legal advice.  For legal advice about any specific situation you should consult an attorney directly.

Frisco City Jail Release — Writ Bonds

June 16, 2010

By Collin County Criminal Defense attorney Jeremy Rosenthal

(214) 724-7065  24-hour line

(972) 369-0577  office line

Hearing that a friend or loved one has been arrested for DWI is like seeing your house catch on fire.  Your first question is how to get them out.

Getting out of Frisco or Plano City Jail:

Collin County doesn’t like people arrested for misdemeanors (DWI’s, possession of marijuana, or theft below $1,500) to clog their jails.  There are policies in place to help get those people out of jail as soon as possible.  Those are referred to as “writ bonds” but in actuality are writs of habeas corpus.

Here’s how it works:

When someone is arrested, they see a magistrate judge who sets a bond amount.  When the bond is paid, the person is released.  Normally in Frisco or Plano, you would have to wait until the next morning to see the magistrate… which means you can’t post bond until usually the middle of the next day — and you don’t know how much that bond will be.

But — because Collin county policy disfavors people arrested on misdemeanors clogging the jail — they allow attorneys to file writs of habeas corpus (they call them writ bonds), which trigger instant cash bonds.

In english, this means that upon filing the right paper-work (and paying the bond), your friend or loved one might not have to wait until the next morning to be released for misdemeanor DWI, Theft, possession of marijuana or possession of a dangerous drug.

Additional Information

Collin County and Plano Writ bonds are only appropriate in a narrow set of instances.  The offense charged must be a Class B or A Misdemeanor (meaning no traffic tickets or felonies).  No assault or family violence charges either.  Also, the person cannot have any other holds from other cases keeping them in jail independently of the new charge.

Legally what is happening is that the lawyer is filing what is known as a “writ of habeas corpus” (Latin for “you have the body”) on behalf of his client — the person arrested.  It is a petition from relief for unlawful detention.  Don’t let the unlawful part throw you — it just means the person is being held without bond.  Collin County has a schedule of bonds which are set upon the filing of a writ by a lawyer on behalf of the client.  Once the bond is set, it can be paid like a cash bond (meaning that the person in custody is both the principal and surety — i.e. no bail bondsman is in the equation).  Months down the road when the case is completed, the bond money gets refunded back to the inmate (not the friend or family member paying the cash bond), or if the person doesn’t come to court — the bond money may be forfeited.

This process shouldn’t be confused with a bail bond.  That is where a bondsman posts the bond with the county on the inmate’s behalf.  This gives the bondsman incentive to make sure the released person goes to Court because if they don’t, they’re liable to the county for the money pledged.

Some lawyers can also be bail bondsmen but most aren’t.  A lawyer doesn’t have to be a bail bondsmen to file a writ of habeas corpus.  I am not a bail bondsman but you should know the difference if you’re visiting with a lawyer or a bondsman about any type of jail release.


*Jeremy F. Rosenthal is an attorney licensed to practice in the State of Texas and is Certified in Criminal Law by the Texas Board of legal Specialization.  Nothing in this article is intended to be legal advice.  For legal advice, please consult an attorney.