If you have been placed under arrest upon suspicion of driving while intoxicated (DWI), one of the few ways your night can get worse is if you are forced to stay in jail for days until your arraignment. In Harris County as well as throughout Texas, there is a system to avoid long stays in jail. The bail bond system allows you to leave jail as long as you promise to return to court on your court dates. However, the court will usually require more than just your promise.
In most cases, you must post some kind of bail in order to get out of jail after a DWI arrest. This bail can come in multiple forms, but the end result is the same. If you post bail and fail to appear at your subsequent court date, you can expect to lose that bail money forever.
Most people lack the resources to pay the full amount of their bail in cash. That is where bail bondsmen come in. These companies, which must be pre-approved by Harris County, cover a defendant's bail in exchange for a fee. If you are facing a DWI charge in Houston, the Doug Murphy Law Firm, P.C. could help you obtain a reasonable bail amount from the court.
Understanding Bail in Houston
The bail process is not standardized across the State of Texas. Instead, each county handles bail differently. The process of obtaining bail can differ, but the concept is the same statewide. While the terms are often intermixed, bail and bond are two different things.
- A bond is an agreement a defendant makes with the court that they will appear at their court dates.
- The bail is the thing of value the defendant gives to hold them to that promise.
Generally, there are two types of bonds: cash bonds and surety bonds. For a cash bond, the defendant simply makes a cash payment to the court for the full amount of the bail set by the court. These payments can be made to the Sheriff's office at:
700 N. San Jacinto Street
Houston, TX 77002
The other type of bond is known as a surety bond. These are bonds posted by a bail bonding company. Typically, the amount you will need to post a surety bond is far less than paying the full cash bond. But how do you calculate the amount you need to get out of jail?
Calculating Bail for a Houston DWI Charge
There is no fixed amount of bail set in each DWI case. While there are thousands of DWI arrests each year across the state, every case is different. What's more, the judges overseeing these cases have the authority to set an amount they deem appropriate. When judges set the amount of bail, they consider factors including:
- Whether or not the defendant has any prior DWI convictions on their record;
- Whether or not the defendant refused to take a breath test or blood test to measure their blood alcohol concentration;
- Whether or not the defendant injured or killed someone while driving under the influence;
- Whether the defendant is a flight risk due to their criminal history; and
- Whether the defendant is dangerous or violent according to their criminal history.
Since there is no set standard for bail, there is no way to calculate the exact amount the judge might set in your case. However, experience can tell you a general idea of what to expect.
For example, many first-offense DWI defendants in Harris County are now released on their own personal recognizance, also known as a P.R. bond. When a P.R. bond is not set, bail is usually set in these cases, it is typically between $500 and $1,000 with no criminal history. The bail system is intended to be reasonable, as overcrowding the county jail with first-time DWI defendants is not the best way to allocate resources.
There are situations where bail could be substantially more, however. The courts will deal with felony DWI arrests much more harshly. The bail for these cases is often $10,000 and can be as much as $35,000, depending on certain risk factors. For charges of intoxication assault or intoxication manslaughter, bail could be even higher.
Your choice of attorney can play a crucial role when it comes to your bail amount. Your attorney could request bail to be lowered in many cases. Additionally, if your attorney is able to convince the prosecutor to downgrade the charges against you, the change in bail could be substantial. This is especially true when felony charges are downgraded to a misdemeanor.
If you are facing DWI charges in Houston or the surrounding area, call the Doug Murphy Law Firm, P.C. right away. Doug Murphy is an experienced DWI trial lawyer with a reputation as one of Houston's top DWI defense attorneys. He could assist you in negotiating down your charges or having the case dismissed altogether.
Calculating Bail for Minors Arrested for DUI
Minor defendants under the age of 18 are prosecuted within their own juvenile system. That system does not use bail for minors according to state law. When the court is weighing what to do with a child, its duty is to comply with whatever is in the child's best interest. Typically, this results in the court handing over the child to a parent or guardian.
In some cases, however, the court will determine that it is best for the child to remain in custody. In serious cases, this can last until the case is resolved. The court must decide whether a child will be returned home or sent to a juvenile facility within two working days. When an arrest occurs during the weekend, the decision must be made on Monday.
Select the Best DWI Attorney in Houston
Attorney Doug Murphy can provide help with negotiating a lower bond for your charges. However, he specializes in taking DWI cases to trial by jury. If you prevail at trial, you will never have to worry about probation or parole. If you are ready to have an experienced litigator in your corner, contact the Doug Murphy Law Firm, P.C. to discuss your case as soon as possible.