What Happens Next
Upon arrest in Harris County, the citizen is initially taken to the jail of the arresting agency (i.e., Houston Police Department, Harris County Sheriff, Constable, or any number of smaller municipalities in and around Houston). All citizens arrested, if not released by the arresting agency, are eventually taken to and booked into the Harris County Jail. The Harris County Jail has two main jails, 1301 Franklin and 701 N. San Jacinto.
The U.S. Constitution, the Texas Constitution and the Code of Criminal procedure recognize the citizen’s right to release on reasonable bond. Once a person is arrested, the person making the arrest must, without unnecessary delay, take the accused before a magistrate. At that appearance, the magistrate must inform the accused of his constitutional rights and determine whether probable cause exists for the arrest and whether a bond should be set. This procedure usually occurs within twenty-four hours of the arrest.
In Harris County, bonds are usually determined based upon a “bond schedule” approved by the Judges currently presiding, which sets a standard bail amount for the various degrees of crimes charged. Under certain circumstances, bond is denied to an accused. The judge who is assigned to the case may set bail, reduce or even raise the bail amount depending on the circumstances.
In order to be released on bond, a citizen can achieve his/her release in one of three different ways:
- Post a cash bond with the Harris County Clerk’s Office Bonding Window located at 49 San Jacinto in downtown Houston in the full amount of the bond. If the person on bond appears as directed, once the case has been resolved, the cash bond will be returned, usually within 6 to 10 weeks.
- Hire a professional bondsman to post the bail for you. A professional bondsman will charge a fee for his service, usually anywhere between 5% to 20% of the bond, depending on the circumstances and collateral. The bondsman is licensed and has an agreement with the County holding the citizen to guarantee the appearance of the citizen at all court-ordered appearances; otherwise, the bond is forfeited and the bondsman is responsible for the entire amount of the bond.
- Most counties in Texas, including Harris County, have a Pretrial Service Agency that administers the pretrial release of accused citizens. Based upon an interview and the recommendations of the Pretrial Agency, the Judge will decide whether or not to grant a pretrial bond for a particular defendant. Release in this manner is far less expensive for the accused. However, the Pretrial Services Agency will most likely require more effort and conditions than a bonding company.
There are many reputable and professional bonding companies from which to choose. If you would like a recommendation of several that have reliably responded to our clients over the years, please contact our office for a recommendation.
Expect the entire process to take anywhere between 12 and 18 hours. Unfortunately, this is commonplace and unless the citizen has not been taken before a magistrate before the expiration of 24 hours for a misdemeanor and 48 hours for a felony, no meaningful mechanism exists to speed the process. If release on bond takes longer, then the advice of an attorney should be sought who can contact the Courts and the Sheriff’s Department to determine the reason for the delay and usually speed release.
A “no bond” designation means that the citizen is not afforded the right to a reasonable bond and will not be released if:
- The citizen is currently on probation or on bond for a felony.
- The citizen has previously been sentenced to prison two or more times.
- The citizen has been arrested pursuant to a “blue warrant” (violation of parole).
If a “no bond” has been entered in a particular case, your attorney should investigate the circumstances of your particular case and approach the Judge assigned the case to request a bond. The “no bond” designation does not always mean that a bond will not be set and may merely be a mistake. In any event, it will take some time to correct the mistake or discuss your particular case with both the Judge and the Assistant District Attorney, usually the next business day. Judges normally will not set bonds or intentionally set “no bond” on cases when the citizen is not in custody.