The Process Of Getting Out
The following is a non-exhaustive list of what must occur before the defendant can be released.
- The defendant must be registered into the jail.
- The officer or agent that made the arrest must submit their report to the magistrate judge. The report may take some time to reach the magistrate's desk.
- The magistrate reviews the report to see if there is a substantial legal reason (very low threshold known as probable cause) for the arrest. If there is, then the magistrate will set the bond amount. If not then the officer has one or two days to correct the problem in the report. If the problem is not corrected, then the defendant must be released.
- The magistrate reads the charges to the defendant in open court, essentially informing the defendant of the charges and the amount of the bond required for their release. An attorney may waive this step by informing the defendant themselves of the charges and the bond amount.
- An order for the defendant's release must be signed or a bond posted.
- The defendant must be processed out of jail.
Each step of the process is susceptible to human error and there are legal obstacles that may keep your loved one in jail longer than necessary. That is why you should hire an attorney.
Why Hire An Attorney
Keep in mind that the benefit of hiring an attorney is that they are able to speed up the process of a jail release by overcoming obstacles. An attorney can start the mechanisms of the release immediately because of their access to court documents, court personnel, and jail personnel. An attorney will talk to Pretrial Services and will then ask the judge for your release. Sometimes the court just needs to know that the defendant has an attorney and they will release the defendant.
The following are factors that may cause a delay in your loved one's release.
- Police reports are in the building but have not made it onto the judge's desk
- Pretrial Services has not been able to interview the defendant.
- The defendant's references have not been called.
- The magistrate has not advised the defendant of the charges in open court.
- The defendant has an out-of-town warrant.
- The defendant needs to be served with an emergency protective order.
- The defendant has a "no bond"
The defendant has pending charges.
Sometimes a judge will not approve the warrant for arrest which will cause the accused to be released.
Most bonds and misdemeanors run between $1,500 and $40,000. Assault and family violence cases usually have higher bonds.
Posting a bond yourself means that you put up the entire amount of the bond and the court keeps the money until your case is closed.
Hiring a bondsman means that a bondsman pays a fee to the court that secures the amount of the bond. You will more than likely pay the bondsman a percentage of the bond as a fee.
An accused may be let out of jail without the assistance of an attorney or bonding company.
Pretrial Services is a Travis County Agency whose primary purpose is to assist the magistrate in making a decision whether to release or detain the defendant in jail. Court-appointed attorneys, as well as hired attorneys, use Pretrial Services to get defendants out of jail.