1. When someone is arrested whether in Williamson County or in any other of the 254 counties in this State, Judges or Magistrates are responsible for setting bail. Bail is the amount of money a defendant or someone for the defendant pays to the court to be released from custody before the trial of the charge. It serves as an assurance that the defendant will return to court on the date(s) while their case(s) is disposed.
2. In setting the amount of bail for someone so they can be released from custody, several factors are considered by the Judge:
a) The type and severity of the crime; individuals charged with Murder, robbery, sexual assault (rape); and crimes involving drugs, particularly distribution often receive a high bail;
b) A person’s criminal past. Those individuals with a history of committing crime and/or a history of prior convictions may receive higher bail; and, on the other hand individuals with prior history of criminal cases and a history of appearing in Court may receive a lower amount of bail;
c) Likelihood of appearing in Court. Individuals living and working in or near the county where the charges are located or have family in the area will likely have a lower amount of bail.
3. Once the Bail is set by the Judge, there are usually three ways the defendant may be released:
a) Cash Bond; Means a person must give the jail or the clerk of the court the total amount of the bail in cash. In other words, if the bail is set in the amount of $5,000.00, then someone must post the full amount of $5,000.00 with the sheriff or clerk’s office. The cash will be held by the clerk of the court until the defendant appears at all of the court dates until the case is concluded. If the defendant does appear at all scheduled court appearances, the cash bond will be returned to the person who placed the cash with the clerk.
b) Surety Bail; a family member or friend can hire a bonding company and usually pay the bondsman about 10% of the amount of the bail. Again, if the bail is Five Thousand Dollars ($5,000.00). In other words, you must hire the bondsman who normally charges 10% of the amount the bond, or Five Hundred Dollars ($500.00), which will be the usual payment for hiring the bondsmen to post the papers assuring the Court of the defendant’s appearance for all the scheduled court appearances.
c) Personal Recognizance: Another method of bail release is through a pre-trial release program administered by the County or through a law enforcement agency. Williamson County only allows Personal Recognizance Bonds for such offenses as Driving While License Invalid or Suspended or Possession of Marihuana less than two (2) ounces.
4. In Williamson County, your attorney cannot come into the jail like in Travis County, and approach the Judge or Magistrate on Duty to request a Personal Recognizance or PR Bond. Personal Recognizance Bonds are only given in Williamson County for possessing a small amount of Marijuana, and Driving While License Invalid or Suspended with a prior conviction (meaning that an individual has been ticketed or arrested previously for that offense).
5. A lot of people think, “If I get a hold of a lawyer right away he can come down and waive Magistration or go before the Judge on duty to waive the reading of my rights like they do in Travis County (Austin).” However, the only time that a Lawyer can waive an inmate from having to go before a Judge after an arrest is when the warrant was issued in advance of arresting the individual.
a. If the warrant was issued prior to being arrested, or the person was arrested on an outstanding warrant, hiring an attorney before the arrest preferably will help you because between the attorney and the bondsman, the individual can get booked and released in very short time in Williamson County.
b. With the exception of Austin and Travis County, a person arrested without a warrant for any offense committed in the presence of a police officer, will have to go in front of a Judge or Magistrate and receive their rights and warnings and resulted in a bond being set for the charge offense(s). After the bond is set by the Judge or Magistrate then the inmate has to contact a bonding company or put up cash(for the total amount of the bond) in order to bond out of jail.
In short, No Attorney in Williamson County can go to the Jail like they do in Travis County and interview the client and go see the Magistrate and get him to waive magistration and give the client a Personal Recognizance Bond for court cases like they do in Travis County.