Usually, one of the first questions I receive from the friends or family of a client, looking for an attorney is, “What is the best way to get my son [daughter, girlfriend, dad, friend etc.] out of jail.”
To get someone out of jail you will need to post a bond. There are three different types of bonds available which include a cash bond, a surety also known as a bondsman, or a Personal Recognizance (PR) Bond.
A cash bond is a cash payment in the full amount of the bond; such as a standard first time offender charged in Harris County would be $500. The advantage to posting a cash bond is that the money will be returned to you after the case has been resolved, if the defendant has attended all court appearances as required. It also eliminates extra requirements, such as having to report weekly to a bonding company.
By using a bondsman (a surety), this allows you to pay only 10 – 15% fee of the total amount of the bond. The bondsman will post the full amount of the bond. The service fee paid to the bondsman is non-refundable and is how they make their profit. Bondsman take the risk that the charged individual will appear to each court setting or lose the money posted for the full bond. To ensure defendants attend court as scheduled, most bonding companies in Houston require customers to either check in weekly by phone or in person. Failure to comply with a bonding companies’ rules may result in losing the continued priviledge of remaining on bond and being re-arrested, requiring you post bond for a second time.
A PR bond is less common and granted under special circumstances. It is usually reserved for low-level, non-violent charges for first time offenders. The offender is released on their on assurance that they will show up to court and no money is required to be paid.