A magistrate can decide to release a person from jail on a personal bond, based on a promise from the defendant to appear at all required court hearings. The decision to release a person from jail on a personal bond is based on the severity of the charge, the prior arrest history and whether the person is perceived as a flight risk.
For example, a person who was arrested for a misdemeanor, has no prior arrests and has lived in the community for years likely would be considered for release on a personal bond. On the other hand, the magistrate would be more likely to decline a personal bond for someone arrested for the same crime while vacationing over the holidays from a state thousands of miles away.
To post a cash bond, the accused, a friend or family member deposit a court-specified amount of money to ensure that the arrested person attends all required hearing dates. If the accused skips bail, the full amount of the cash bond is forfeited to the city. If, on the other hand, the accused is present at all required hearings and the case is closed, bail is returned to the depositor in certain instances.
A surety bond is posted by a bail bondsman to release the person from jail, for a non-refundable fee. Like a cash bond, the bail bondsman stands to forfeit the bond if the person skips bail.
Bail Bondsmen in Texas
Texas is the only state where bail bondsmen are regulated at the county level. This is done in two different ways. Counties with a population 110,000 or more have a County Bail Bond Board. Each board has wide leeway and sets its regulatory policies independently. In counties with fewer than 110,000 people, bail bond laws are set and enforced by county judges or county sheriffs.