Pretrial Release is a key part of a successful defense. Judges carefully instruct jurors that an arrest means nothing in terms of guilt or innocence. Nevertheless, many people believe that defendants in jail must have done something wrong.
But not everyone is on board with the surety system. For some people, a $500 bond might as well be $5 million. In fact, California recently did away with the cash bail system altogether. In many jurisdictions, jails contain more unsentenced inmates than sentenced ones. According to some, this statistic means that too many people are in jail simply because they cannot afford bond.
Like many places, Parker County uses a surety bond or cash bond system, as explained below.
Some counties have a very small pretrial release office which arranges own-recognizance bonds in some cases. Persons released on OR bonds usually just promise to appear for their court dates. There is usually an administrative fee and some conditions, such as check-ins and drug tests.
Generally, only first-time offenders charged with property crimes are eligible for OR bonds in these counties. Even then, the wheels of justice turn slowly, so an evaluation might take several days. And, there are only a limited number of OR bonds available.
Surety Bonds and Cash Bail
Almost all Parker County pretrial releases involve surety bonds. Instead of posting the entire amount, a defendant works with a bonding company to post a surety bond. The bonding company usually charges 10 percent. There may or may not be additional conditions, such as check-ins. When the case is over, the bondsman keeps the money the defendant has paid them.
Sometimes, the judge designates the case as cash-only. That's common in bond forfeiture cases. To obtain release, the defendant must post the entire amount of the bail in cash with the Sherriff's Department. The good news is that cash bonds are refundable, minus a processing fee.
Bail Reduction Hearing
If no OR bond is available and the bond amount is too high, an attorney may request a bail reduction hearing. At this hearing, the judge looks at a number of factors to determine a reasonable bail amount. Some of these factors include:
· Threat to the community if the defendant is released,
· Defendant's ability to travel,
· Amount the defendant can pay,
· Severity of the offense, and
· How much evidence the state has.
After this hearing, the judge usually either decreases the bail amount or keeps it the same. In rare instances, the bail amount could actually increase.
A criminal record does not necessarily follow a defendant forever. For a free consultation with an experienced criminal defense attorney in Weatherford, contact Herreth Law. We routinely handle cases in Parker County and nearby jurisdictions.