Have you or a loved-one been arrested recently? Here is what you need to know.
If you have been arrested, you have entered the second phase of a criminal case. You will be faced with decisions regarding bail (or pretrial detention), county pretrial services (or electronic monitoring) and the first stages of a criminal prosecution in the state or federal court system.
- When do you need to hire a criminal defense lawyer?
- How do you get someone out of jail?
- What are the different kinds of bonds?
- What is a PR Bond?
- What is a Surety Bond?
- What is a Cash Bond?
- Can I get a bond amount reduced?
- What can I do while out on bail?
- Can I travel while out on bail?
- What is a detention hearing?
- When do I have to go to court?
- Is my driver’s license suspended?
It is critically important that you retain a criminal lawyer as soon as possible. You should call us before you talk to the police and before you have been formally booked in to jail. If you or your loved-one has been arrested and is already been booked into jail, you can retain us to help navigate the bail process, fight to get bail reduced and assist with a variety of other concerns you may have.
Need help with a recent arrest? Book a consultation to discuss legal representation with criminal defense attorney Paul Saputo.
The first question most people have after an arrest is how to get out of jail. This is done through having a bond set and posting the bond in order to get out on bail. Bail is the mechanism by which a criminal court “restrains your liberty” to make sure you go to court when you are supposed to go to court. Everyone who is arrested is entitled to consideration for bail. An independent judge is supposed to set a bond in a “reasonable” amount to guarantee that you will go to court as required. Bond is set at an amount of money, and it may be either a cash bond, a surety bond or a PR bond. The court may also impose other restrictions such as electronic monitoring, an ignition interlock device for your car (or another kind of alcohol-monitoring device) if you are on bail for DWI, travel restrictions, restrictions on who you may interact with or any number of other options.
If the police want to interrogate you, you will be faced with the choice about whether or not to cooperate. That first choice has many severe implications, no matter what you choose or what you end up saying–it is always complicated and can have many long-term effects on your case and on your reputation and future. This is only the first choice that you will face. If you choose to cooperate with a police interrogation, you will need to be able to understand what questions are legitimate and which are crossing a line. If you choose to ignore the police, you risk losing an opportunity to make the case go away before arrest. This is always a decision you should make with the assistance of a lawyer, even if you are innocent.
If your loved-one has been arrested, you will need to post a bond to get him or her out of jail unless a judge grants a PR bond. Typically you will have to hire a criminal defense attorney to get a PR bond granted. If bail is not posted and the district attorney pursues charges, he or she will remain in jail until the case is finally resolved. You do not need a criminal attorney to post bond, but an attorney can help reduce the amount of bond and help you navigate the bail system.
Bail works very differently in the state court system than it does in the federal court system. In the federal court system, judges frequently deny bail, but defendants are still entitled to consideration for bail. This is usually done in a detention hearing.
In addition to bail issues, there are numerous other decisions to make if you have been recently arrested. We will need to decide whether you are going to cooperate with the police investigation, whether you are going to conduct a parallel investigation alongside the police, whether you are going to give information to the district attorney’s office in an attempt to get the charges dismissed, whether you want an examining trial, whether you want to request an ALR hearing (for DWI charges) and many other considerations. These decisions will be crucial as the case progresses. A criminal defense attorney will provide you with advice and assistance in making these decisions.
Waiting too long to hire a criminal defense lawyer is a common mistake that can severely impact the quality of your defense. Before you are formally arrested, the police will conduct an investigation. If we have an opportunity to conduct our investigation, we may be able to catch mistakes in the police investigation and potentially keep you from getting arrested in the first place.
There is also a period of time before the district attorney will file charges. You may or may not be arrested before charges are filed. If you hire us early, we may have an opportunity to prevent charges from being filed. In felony cases, there is a similar period of time before an indictment is filed.
The bottom line is that if you have an opportunity to hire a criminal defense attorney sooner rather than later, do not pass up the opportunity.
In general, you have to post a bond to get someone out of jail. We may be able to help you by getting a bond amount reduced or by obtaining a PR bond so that no money has to be paid to the court at all. You can post bond yourself or you can hire a bail bonds company. A criminal defense attorney can post a bond for you as well. The decision about which bail bond company you choose will be important as well. A bad bail bond company can make your life miserable.
Texas law describes several different kinds of bonds, but the most popular types of bonds are surety bonds, cash bonds and PR bonds. The best kind of bond is a PR bond. Cash bonds are the hardest to post because you have to present cash to the court. Surety bonds are posted by bail bonds companies, and they only charge you a fraction of the amount of the bond. But this is a fee that you will not get back after the case is over.
A PR bond is a type of bail bond that does not require you to post any money up front or to hire a surety bail bond company. Essentially it is just a written promise that you will show up to court, and the contract specifies that you will owe the court a certain amount of money if you do not go to court as required.
A surety bond is a type of bond that does not require an up-front payment to the court, but only licensed sureties may post this type bond. So you will have to hire a bail bond company to post this kind of bond, and they will charge you a fee for this. However, we can sometimes get these types of bonds converted to a much less expensive cash bond. If we get it converted, then you will get the cash back after the case is finally over.
Bail bond companies also usually require their own conditions, and if you break your contract with them, they may attempt to “off-bond” with you and if the court grants their request, your bond will be revoked and a warrant will be issued for your arrest.
A cash bond is a type of bond that requires payment of the entire bond amount up front to the court and in cash. However, at the end of the case you will get your money back. In Dallas county, the person who posted the bond will receive the bond back in the form of a check sent via mail to the address that the person gave when posting bail in the first place. You will need to get an affidavit signed to have the bond sent elsewhere.
A criminal defense attorney can help you get your bond amount reduced by petitioning the judge and holding a hearing. Our criminal lawyer has had success getting bonds lowered and getting bonds reinstated after they have been revoked. In a recent case we were able to get reversed a denial of bail in federal court and obtained a property bond. In Texas state court we can either work with the district attorney’s office (if they are amenable) or argue against them to get a bail reduced.
While out on bail you can do anything you want so long as the judge did not order otherwise. Typical bail requirements are that you not break any other laws, show up to your court dates and offense-specific requirements like no-alcohol for DWI offenses, no-contact orders for Assault crimes and no-travel restrictions for more serious crimes.
Typically you can travel while on bail, but it depends on whether the judge in your case ordered you not to travel while out on bail. If you need to travel for an emergency, then our criminal lawyer can typically work with the court if there is an existing travel ban.
A detention hearing is a federal court hearing in which a judge (usually a magistrate judge) determines whether the federal government can hold a person pending trial. The person is entitled to have an attorney represent him or her at the hearing. These hearings may be waived, but it would be unwise to do this without the advice of a federal criminal defense attorney.
You have to go to court whenever the court orders you to be there. Your first court date will usually be set automatically by the court, but the next court dates will be set by a combination of your criminal defense lawyer, the state or federal prosecutors and the court itself.
Your first court date in Dallas county could be weeks or months after you were arrested. There are similar time periods in other counties, and it usually depends on the charge and how quickly the state’s investigation progresses. Court dates are usually separated by a few weeks.
If you have been arrested for DWI, the state cannot suspend your license without a hearing unless you have missed the deadline to request an ALR hearing. You will be entitled to a hearing called an ALR Hearing, but you need to request it and request it quickly and correctly. Learn more about ALR hearings and license suspensions and more about our DWI Defense practice