Criminal defense in Austin Texas.

Bonds, part 2. Personal, surety, cash, and cash deposit.

Posted By on December 4, 2008

Earlier I said a personal bond is the cheapest way to get out of jail.

So what is a personal bond exactly?

A personal bond is a promise by you, the accused, to show up to court each and every time you’re supposed to.  You don’t have to put any money down, or hire a lawyer or a bail bondsman.  The court just takes your word for it.

Of course there are consequences if you don’t.  Come back to court, I mean.  One is that Travis County will sue you.  Another is that the police will take you back to jail, if and when they catch up with you.

So why doesn’t everyone get a personal bond?  Because not everyone qualifies.  Generally, if you live here in Austin, or in Travis County, and you have a job, a place to live, and somebody who will vouch for you (mom*, friend, roommate, girlfriend), and a reasonably clean record, you will get a free bond.

On the other hand, if you don’t live in Travis County, or in Texas, or you’re on probation or parole, or this isn’t exactly your first rodeo, or it’s a family violence case, or the allegations are especially serious, you’re liable to need a lawyer or a bondsman.

A bondsman, as I said before, will post the amount of the bond for you, in exchange for a fee.  Well, he won’t exactly post it.  He’ll post a piece of paper, called a surety (or a surety bond), that’ll be filed with the papers in the case.  The paper says the bondsman will be responsible – will pay the court the bond money – if you don’t show up for court.  In other words, instead of taking just your word for it, they’re taking his word and your word as well.

Lawyers can post sureties, but many don’t.  I can’t speak for others, but my own feeling is that bail bonding is it’s own business, and it’s one I’m happy to leave to bail bondsmen.  Plus, I’m no Duane Chapman, and don’t want to be one.


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