If you are trying to get someone out of the Travis County Jail immediately, please call (512) 270-3314.
Many people charged with a crime—whether DWI or another offense—have never before dealt with the criminal justice system. This page will give you an overview of the process of securing the release of someone who has been arrested and detained in the Travis County Jail.
Once a person has been arrested and booked, the arresting officer will file a probable cause affidavit with the court. This is basically the officer’s short version of the allegations against the defendant. The affidavit is then reviewed by a judge, who also looks into the defendant’s criminal history. The judge will then set a bail amount, based primarily on the seriousness of the allegations against the defendant as well as his or her prior history.
For misdemeanors in Travis County, bail is often set as low as $500 for cases such as passing fraudulent checks and as high as $10,000 or more for cases involving family violence or assault.
Most first-time DWI bail amounts will be between $1,500 and $7,500, if the defendant has no previous arrests. However, there is no set bail schedule, and the amount could be more or less depending on the judge who initially reviews the case.
The bail is set, once the case has been reviewed by a magistrate. If you are arrested after 1:00 a.m. (which is often the case with DWIs), often, you will not have a bail amount set until sometime the next morning—or even the next afternoon.
Once the judge has set the bail amount, there are four ways to secure the release of the defendant from jail: cash bonds, personal bonds, lawyer-assisted bonds, and surety bonds.
Securing a cash bond is simply a matter of depositing the full amount with the jail. Travis County Jail only accepts cashier’s checks and money orders (not actual cash) in the amount of the bond.
Cash bonds are typically not the best option for a few reasons. First, since bail is usually set in the thousands rather than the hundreds for DWIs, many people will find it difficult to come up with the full cash amount quickly. This means their friend or loved one will have to wait in jail longer.
Second, the money will be tied up until the case is resolved, which could take a year or even longer. This is generally not a good use of cash funds.
Sometime after the arrest, the Travis County Pre-Trial Services Office will interview the defendant to see if he or she qualifies for a personal bond. If they do qualify, the defendant will only be required to pay a $40 PR Bond fee to the office.
This is the cheapest way to get out of jail. However, it is often not the best option for a couple of reasons.
First, if a person is arrested late at night (say, 2:00 a.m. for a DWI), often, the judge will not see them to set a bond until sometime closer to noon or even late afternoon. Second, depending on the number of people arrested, it can take the Pre-Trial Services Office more than 12 hours to approve a bond for any particular defendant.
It is not unusual for a person arrested for DWI at 2:00 a.m. to be released on personal bond sometime between 6 and 10 p.m. Most of my clients want to be released much sooner than that if possible.
Third, the Pre-Trial Services Office uses very strict criteria to determine eligibility for a personal bond. Very often, a person will not be approved for a personal bond unless an attorney is retained.
There are several ways that I, as a lawyer, can help get you out of jail. First, I can often speed up the personal bond process. Even if Pre-Trial Services wouldn’t have turned in a bond until sometime in the afternoon, I am usually able to speed up that process and get it turned in sometime shortly after 8 a.m. This can save the defendant many unpleasant hours in jail.
Second, if the defendant does not qualify for a personal bond, I can present the defendant’s case as to why he would be a good candidate for a personal bond. In most cases, this money can be applied toward the fee I would charge to represent the defendant in court.
Because my practice is primarily defending DWIs, I have attorneys available at all hours of the day and night to assist recently arrested defendants in getting out of jail. Please call (512) 270-3314 to speak with an attorney who can help you now.
In some cases, it may be necessary for the defendant to hire a bail bond company to guarantee the amount of the bond. Bail bond companies typically charge at least 15-20% of the bond amount to get someone out of jail. In some cases, it may be more.
Also, bail bond companies require a co-signer to agree to pay the bond amount, if the defendant misses a court date.
The money used to pay a bondsman can never be applied to an attorney’s fees.
To speak with someone from my office about getting a friend or loved one out of jail, please call (512) 270-3314.