The different types of bonds in Texas courtsJune 14th, 2010
A bond is a security that the defendant gives to assure the court that he will appear to answer the charges at trial.
Three bonds exist in Texas:
- Personal recognizance
“Cash Bonds” are the full amount of the bond posted in cash, cashier’s check or money order. All cashier’s checks or money orders should be made payable to the “Sheriff of Harris County”. The advantage of posting bail in this manner is that, once the trial is finished and the accused has appeared in court as required, the entire amount of the bond will be returned to the person who deposited it, usually within 6-10 weeks. Several potential disadvantages result from paying a cash bond:
1. A large cash bond, even if paid with legal proceeds, may bring undesired attention from law enforcement authorities.
2. Money used for a cash bond, if cash is in short supply to the defendant, could have been better used to hire a good lawyer,
3. If the case is going to go on for a long period of time, the use of a cash bond may cost a significant amount in lost interest.
“Surety Bonds” are bonds posted through bonding companies that charge a fee, usually ten percent or so of the total bond, for their services. Once bail is posted, the defendant will receive a future court date and be released from jail. Surety bonds are the most common in Harris County.
“Personal recognizance bonds” occur when the defendant is released from custody on his promise to appear in court on the scheduled date. The defendant pays nothing; his promise to appear is his bond. Personal recognizance bonds are the least common in Harris County, given that judges are reluctant to grant them. In 2007, for example, the last year information had been completely compiled as of December 2009, less than one half of one percent of Harris County defendants in district court received a personal recognizance bond, while about eight percent of defendants in county court received a personal recognizance bond.