TOP 7 TEXAS BAIL BONDS TRAPS: DON’T GET CAUGHT IN ONE OF THEM!

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Texas Bail Bonds Lawyer Warns About Traps in Texas Bail Bonds System

When you are arrested in the State of Texas, your freedom will be taken from you by law enforcement as you are arrested and physically taken and enter the criminal justice system. Whether and when you are free to join your loved ones while you await trial of your case will depend upon a judicial determination that often involves setting bail. Bail bonds and bail bonding companies exist to help people in this situation, where they need financial help to make that bail amount.

Problem is, getting a bail bond just isn’t that simple and there are some hazards that a savvy person should avoid. Here are seven of them.

There are many good reasons to hire a bail bondsman to get bond posted. So, I don’t want this to be some kind of diatribe against all bonding companies. Over the many years, I’ve seen numerous easily avoidable problems folks have with their bonding company. I want this list to be educational.

Most folks think that they MUST hire a bail bond company to get their loved one out of jail and that’s simply not true. Many times hiring a bail bond company to get an inmate out of the county can be a huge waste of cash.

Money which could have been better used to resolve the violation ends up wasted on a bail bondsman. I have written about many of the issues online; for more detailed information about many of these issues please go to my Jail release in-depth article I’ve published to help folks dealing with bail problems in Texas.

1. Probation Violation Bonds.

When a judge violates probation or community supervision in Texas, the court will issue a Capias Warrant. As long as the warrant is issued before probation or community supervision has expired, the probationer will need to take care of the warrant as soon as possible.

In most cases, the probation is entitled to get a bond IF the probationer is on deferred adjudication probation. If the probationer is a conviction probationer, he/she might still be able to post bond. In this case, an attorney will be needed to file a motion for a bond hearing and request a bond from the judge.

The common mistake is that folks panic and post the first bond they can, which is usually excessive. A week later, they find themselves back in front of the judge on the probation violation, wherein the judge can put them back in jail if he/she wants to.

So, you could spend a lot of money on a probation violation bond just to be out of jail for 7 days. Of course, the bonding company isn’t going to mention that scenario to you.

They aren’t also going to tell you that if you hire an expert criminal defense lawyer, like me, the lawyer might be able to resolve the probation violation without the probationer ever needing to report to the jail.

They also won’t tell you, that many times, a smart lawyer will be able to get probation continued or reinstated very shortly after the probationer turns himself in on the probation violation.

So, what’s the right way to do it? Hire a good lawyer before you hire a bonding company! What do I do if I can’t get a bond and my loved one is just sitting in jail with no hearing date set? Article 42.12 section 21(b) entitles every probationer in Texas in jail and awaiting there day in court the right to have a hearing on the matter no later than 20 days.

BUT ONLY IF THEIR LAWYER KNOWS TO FILE A MOTION FOR THE HEARING!

Most lawyers don’t file this motion and, therefore, their client just languishes in jail. I have published a sample motion that I frequently use to put pressure on the Court, Probation Department and the District Attorney’s Office to get my client’s case dealt with right away while they are in jail on a probation violations.

Now, you may NOT want to file this motion. This motion is useful but only where appropriate. So, you need to have a lawyer who will explain different strategies needed to get the best outcome on your revocation hearing.

2. Parole Violation or “Blue Warrant”

When a Parolee picks up a new case, many times their parole officer will issue a Parole Violation Warrant or what’s called a “Blue Warrant.” Of course, there will be a bond set on the “new case.”

A bail bond company would be happy to take your money to post that bond. Why? Because they know that the Parolee isn’t going to get released from jail. That is, if there’s a “blue warrant” or a parole violation, the parolee cannot post bond. There will be a “hold” on them at the county jail unless and until the parole violation warrant is lifted.

You will need a lawyer, not a bonding company, to deal with this situation. There are many ways to resolve these cases, so it’s not appropriate to go into every possible defense. But you won’t want to post a bond. It’s a waste of money. Spend your money on a Board Certified Criminal Law expert: money well spent.

3. Immigration hold or ICE HOLD.

If you’ve read this far, you’ll notice a theme developing: Anytime there’s a hold on a county or city jail inmate, you’ll want to hire a lawyer instead of a bonding company. The last thing you want to do, is post a bond and then your loved one isn’t released from custody.
That’s the whole point, isn’t it? Get them out of jail as soon as possible! There are ways to get a bond on an ICE hold. I discuss this in much greater detail in my published ICE or Immigration Bond article. You must hire an excellent criminal defense lawyer in this situation. A bonding company simply can’t help at all.

4. Charge more than 10%.

This is an easy one, but somehow folks end up paying WAY more on a bond than they ever should. It is common business practice all over Texas for the bonding company to charge a 10% “fee” to post the bond on your behalf.

What does this mean? The fee to the bonding company is not refundable. The fee is simply their way of making money off of folks that don’t have the readily available cash to post their own bond.

That’s right. You can post a cash bond and bypass the bonding company altogether. If you post a cash bond, you will get all of your money back (minus a processing fee) when the case is done.

I’ve seen bonding companies charge more than 10% by adding additional reporting fees to the cost. Out of state defendants and inmates get hit the hardest. Local bonding companies will charge much higher than 10% for these folks. I’ve even seen some that charge the full bond amount.

IF YOU CAN AFFORD TO PAY THE FULL AMOUNT OF THE BOND IN CASH, DON’T HIRE A BONDING COMPANY.

How can a lawyer help? Many out of state folks might be able to post a cash bond but they aren’t local. A lawyer can help with this situation. In many cases, I can post a bond, when I am also hired on the case. For me, posting a bond is merely a courtesy that I do for MY clients. My main objective is to undo the criminal charge and clear up my client’s record later on. I am not merely interested in getting someone released from jail.

5. Bondsman’s Lawyer or Referred Attorney from Bonding Company.

I wrote in great detail about this trap here. What happens? You hire a bonding company and then they “recommend” you hire a particular criminal defense lawyer to handle your case.

Can you say CONFLICT OF INTEREST?! The problem is that the lawyer will be working almost exclusively FOR THE BONDING COMPANY. This means his duties are to the bonding company, not so much to the client.

By the way, did I mention that it’s illegal? Yes, the Texas Occupations Code section 1704.252(11), explicitly prohibits the bonding company from recommending an attorney to their client or referring the client to an attorney. ‘Nuff said.

6. The City or Municipal Court Bond Scam

I saved the best for last. This is the worst and most prevalent bond pitfall. I’ve also written about this before.

There are 26 cities or municipalities within Dallas County. Each city has their own municipal or city jail each with their own Magistrate Judge. The Magistrate Judge is NOT the judge assigned to the criminal case later on.

The Magistrate is simply a stand-in attorney that the city hires to perform certain simple tasks. One of those tasks is to set bonds on criminal cases for at large warrants and arrestee or inmates of their municipal jail.

Dallas County has their own bond schedule.

The problem is that most city Magistrate Judges don’t set their bonds according to the Dallas County Bond Schedule. They set them WAY HIGHER!

Most family members related to someone recently arrest will panic and do anything within their means to get their loved one out of the city jail. They’ll do this, even if the bond is set multiple times above the recommended Dallas Count bond schedule. It’s not their fault. They don’t know that the bond being set is excessive.

Wouldn’t the bonding company tell me the bond is too high? Not if you can afford to pay it. I know it’s sad. But bonding companies aren’t interested in getting the best deal for their clients.

For the most part bonding companies want to collect the highest fee possible as quickly as possible; next client! What can a smart lawyer do to remedy this injustice?

On almost all misdemeanor cases and many Felony cases I can set a Dallas County Bond Schedule bond at any time. I can do this through something called a Writ of Habeas Corpus or a Bond Writ.

Once I get the bond set according to the Dallas County schedule, I can usually post the bond myself. I have done this many times. I have saved my clients many thousands of dollars in this process.

As I previously mentioned herein, I am the lawyer in the case. So, this isn’t something I do and then walk away from the case. I get bond reduced by filing the writ FOR MY CLIENTS. I need to get hired on the case do this. Every situation is different, so it’s a good idea to consult with a Board Certified Criminal Law expert to answer your questions.

7. Is a “Walk Through” the best you can do?

If you have an active warrant for you arrest and you call the bonding company, they may say you need to do a “walk through.” In other words, they are saying you need to walk into the County Jail and be arrested, processed, put in a jump suit, see the Magistrate and then hope you don’t get lost in the system somewhere.

No, that really did happen! Here is a summary of the problems Dallas County has seen in the past. You may hear that a “walk through” will only take 5 or 6 hours. That’s not always the case.

The bottom line is if you can afford to hire an attorney to defend you in your case, you should hire YOUR lawyer before you deal with the warrant. A smart lawyer might be able to get your booking totally waived.

In this case, you won’t need to go to jail. A lawyer might also get you a P.R. Bond so you don’t need to pay any money for a bond. A P.R. bond is simply your promise to appear in court later on.

A smart lawyer might even be able to make your case totally go away without ever posting bond. How? Well, the warrant gets removed from the sheriff’s computer if the case is dismissed. That’s one way. Of course, there are many other ways to deal with an at large warrant without posting any bond. However, you will need a good lawyer to help and that’s what I do for my clients.
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About the Author:

Michael Lowe is a Texas trial attorney practicing criminal defense law in the Dallas area for many years after first serving as a felony prosecutor for the Office of the District Attorney for Dallas County. He is Board Certified by the State Bar of Texas in Criminal Law. Mr. Lowe has tried to verdict over 150 criminal trials so far in the state and federal systems.


Comments are welcomed here and I will respond to you -- but please, no requests for personal legal advice here and nothing that's promoting your business or product. Comments are moderated and these will not be published.


  • md87

    Way to demonize the bonding companies. As far as your explanation of the processes for the county, your spot on but our policy procedure you have absolutely no clue about. we don’t post bonds for people who have holds because we know this is a waste of money because with certain holds we run the risk of losing money ourselves. we never ask our clients to turn themselves in on a warrant unless we knew there was a possibility for a bond reduction or for a bond to be set. that’s why there called non arrest bonds so you don’t have to go to jail. immigration holds of course we would never deal with that and for anyone reading do your research on your criminal defense lawyers because their number one for taking your money when you have a case dealing with an immigration hold, majority of the time there useless in this situation, they’ll just take your money and run. obviously you don’t understand the reasoning behind charging more for out of state clients. its because if your out of state then you have a higher risk for being a no show for court, out of state clients have no ties to wherever they committed the crime other than the crime so yes we charge more because we run the risk of losing our money if this person decides to not show up. true if you could afford to pay a full cash bond then by all means go ahead but depending on your financial situation and how smoothly that county works with their record keeping you could be waiting months to be reimbursed for that $5000 cash bond you posted. lawyers and bonding companies, it is against the law for a bonding company to refer a lawyer so we don’t do it, but lets say if we did what exactly are we gaining other than the satisfaction of knowing that this person will show up to court so we don’t lose our investment. there is absolutely no other gain than that. we have no say in your case proceeding we just get you out of jail. bonding companies get called everyday by lawyers with little to no knowledge of how the bond process works and I have even been asked for my opinion on how much time someone would get if they stayed in there, how much do I think the bond would be set at. oh and also felony deferred adjudication warrants usually have no bond and this is about 95% of the time, and majority these case will not have a bond set later in the future because chances are, and these chances are very high that this person will have their probation amended. so really theres no need to hire a lawyer to set one. you probably should have consulted with a bonding company before writing up this article then you would have a better understanding of why we do or do not do certain things.

    • Michael Lowe

      Marilena DeLeon,
      I appreciate your comment. Thanks for reading this article. I standby everything I’ve written. I’ve personally witnessed all of these bail bondsman traps firsthand over the last 17 years. I am not surprised a bail bonding company would deny that they employ any dishonest tactics against their client as described in this article. That’s fine.

      I appreciate that you acknowledge that it’s against the law for a Dallas bail bondman to refer their clients to a specific lawyer. However, it’s clear from your comment that you personally disagree with that law. I believe that all bonding companies engage in this practice. The reason they do this is to further their objective: to get off the bond or to have the case disposed of as fast as possible. Since you are not a Board Certified Criminal Lawyer with decades of experience, I don’t expect you to understand how dangerous this can be for the Defendant facing time in prison. I will give you a specific example which demonstrates exactly what I’m talking about.

      This year a well known Dallas criminal defense lawyer fell on hard times. He had to take an unexpected and extended leave of absence from practicing law. (I’m putting this nicely because I personally like the man.) When this unexpected event took place, one of the top bail bondman in Dallas personally contacted me to see if I could take over ALL of his case. I was surprised to receive this call and, at first, I didn’t really understand why a bail bondman was trying to refer me a large number of cases due to this lawyer’s unexpected troubles. I asked the bondman more questions about why he was calling me asking me to do this and he abruptly ended the call. As they say: “When the tide goes out do you see who’s been swimming naked.” I always knew that Dallas Bail Bond Companies had a lawyer or two that handled all of their clients who were stupid/naive enough to take their referral recommendation for a lawyer to represent them. After this call, I saw this practice first hand. That’s really what motivated me to write this article.

      Thanks for your comments.

      Michael.

      • md87

        That’s funny most clients want their cases closed out as soon as possible, which leads me to believe that you take your time bleedvyour clients dry like most lawyers do. And no, where I work we don’t refer lawyers. I too have experience first hand lawyers who take your money and run, matter of fact they straight out told us after getting our money that there was nothing they could do for us. Mind you it was two different lawyers who did this, we finally found an honest one who did an excellent job. Also had many a client who immediately paid a lawyer to take over a case and bond there person but of course I get the call and have to break the news that they got scammed and this person was never able to be released. You know bonding companies can’t just get off a bond right, we have to present a good reason to the judge before surrendering or the client needs to already have forfeited. Oh and by the way that wasn’t much of an example that you gave. You’ll just have to meet me half way on this one, because not all bonding companies practice referring lawyers especially where I work and I can agree that there are very few honest lawyers.

      • jon

        sounds to me like you could have made a lot more money if you would have taken those clients. If they are incompetent enough to hire you on their own free will, when you feel the need to bastardize other people to try to help your own firm. I would never hire someone that would throw other people under the bus for their own self benefit.

  • jon

    If you had any clue how bailbonds works maybe this article would be accurate. So many of these statements are totally false. there is a reason you are a lawyer and not a bailbondsman. So why don’t you go practice law and stay out of the bonding business? You do not see bondsman writing articles saying don’t use lawyers do you? Almost every point you made is not correct. The blue warrant you did state a true fact but as for everything else it is so far from the truth and we bondsman would love it if people like you would would quit rubbing our nose in the dirt. There may be crooked bondmans out there but most that i know are upstanding.

  • disqus_jiX2XwomfB

    Hi. My BF was arrested recently due to a “bond increase,” or so he was told at the time of his arrest. What’s posted on his record online has changed since I first pulled it, but now it appears it was due to a bond forfeiture, or perhaps a date in court missed due to the bond forfeiture…? His bondsman (lady, actually) didn’t even know of a court date, but could that be because she bonded him for a charge occurring a couple weeks after the original? It shows a bond of $2000 (same as the original), but the capias warrant issued almost two weeks later. His bondsman now said “they” won’t go down, his previous bonds an said all texas bonds under 10k are 15% down by law…..but then I read that a capias warrant is to detain him until he sees a judge….??!! And I dunno which end is up? Can u help? I’d be happy to provide u more detailed information in private, if needed. 🙂 thanks!
    J. Goofy_EJ_2004 @ yah00!
    Btw, nice article. Captivating flow. ….and ur not “demonizing” the bondsman trade lol There are some real cheats out there, and It’s the perfect field for them. As for the influencing the people away from these “demons,” Ha! No one facing cinderblocks and bars gives a Damn at that moment. U can’t hurt the reputation and business of a bondsman. We all love them when we need them!

  • Ricky Ramirez

    I have a brother who failed to appear on a dwli case….now the bondman posted wanted for arrest and the bondsman has a reward….he want to turn his self in…he just wanted to wait till he got paid and was off work so he wont lose his job….another bondman want 1000 dwn for his bond my question is do you think it better to jus hire a lawyer and get the lawyer to bond him out since hes going to need one anyway….and if the warrant is in a different county that he lives in can he be arrest by another law enforcement from a different county before he hires a lawyer or pays a bondsman?

  • Ashley Dianne Stults

    Do you only do Dallas county ? Can you recommend a good defense lawyer in Parker County?

  • chelsea

    im in need of an attorney for my husband who is currently detained in Tarrant county, but has charges in parker county that need handled and represented. how do I go about seeing if you might be able to help?

  • Catrina Allen

    Do you do pro bono work? My husband needs an attorney badly but we can’t afford one. However, we need someone way better than your run of the mill public defender.

  • Jjsto

    If a motion for hearing in twenty day is filed for incarcerated person with violation straight probation no bond and the twenty days goes by what happens next?

  • Cloz

    If I paid a bail bonds company and they don’t post because of an ice hold. Can u get my money back since they didn’t post.