In most instances, a defendant is entitled to be released in exchange for a bond, pending the resolution of the case.
Texas Code of Criminal Procedure Article 17.15 states the factors that courts must consider in setting a bond:
- The bail shall be sufficiently high to give reasonable assurance that the undertaking will be complied with.
- The power to require bail is not to be so used as to make it an instrument of oppression.
- The nature of the offense and the circumstances under which it was committed are to be considered.
- The ability to make bail is to be regarded, and proof may be taken upon this point.
- The future safety of a victim of the alleged offense and the community shall be considered.
- Other factors can be considered, including the defendant’s: work record, community and family ties, length of residency, prior criminal history, behavior while out on prior bonds, and existence of any outstanding bonds.
- The trial court must set a reasonable bond. If bond is unreasonable, then the defendant can appeal.
Defendants usually hire a bonding company to post the bond. Bonding companies typically require the defendant to pay ten percent of the total bond amount and put up some collateral to make sure the defendant does not “jump bond” by failing to appear in court) For example, if the trial court sets a $20,000 bond, a bonding company would charge $2,000 and require the remaining bond amount to be secured by property, such as a house. Like any business, some bonding companies are trustworthy and some are not. A reputable lawyer will be able to advise on which bond company to use.
In setting a bond, a court can impose certain conditions over and above the amount of bond a defendant must post to be released. For example, a defendant might be required to turn in their passport, wear an electronic monitor, or submit to a curfew, depending on the seriousness of the offense. An expert defense lawyer often can successfully negotiate minimal conditions of bond so that a defendant is not unduly restricted while the case is pending.