What to Do When Someone is Arrested

June 19, 2012

By Collin County Criminal Lawyer Jeremy Rosenthal

(214) 724-7065 (jail release line)

www.rosenthalwadas.com

Here are the steps to getting someone out of jail (I’m a Collin County, Texas Lawyer so these are based on Texas law):

1.  Find out where they are.  This might be much harder than it sounds if the arrestee didn’t tell you for whatever reason.  There is currently no centralized database accessible to the public to find a person in jail.  Sometimes you’d have to call every individual municipality and/or county to see if your arrestee is there.  If I ever learn of a shortcut — I’ll post it.

2.  Find out what they have been charged with.  The arrestee should have been told, but there’s often a communication gap because either your friend/ loved one didn’t understand what they were told due to the excitement of the situation or the police weren’t very clear.  Usually the police are nice enough to tell you what the charges are because they normally want their jail cleared out (running a jail is money losing proposition for the city and/or county).

In some cases, the police may drag their feet in dealing with you or not want to give you information if their investigation is ongoing and your arrestee is being interviewed.  Never interfere with a police investigation or be hostile to people working at the police station.  If you suspect your arrestee is being interviewed or an investigation is ongoing —  a lawyer should be involved immediately.  I’m not aware of any law in Texas which keeps arrest information secret or confidential.

3.  Find out the Bond Amount:  A bond is a payment kept by the County while the arrestee’s case goes to court — usually months after the arrest.  When the case is over, the bond is returned to the arrestee.  If bond has been set then getting the arrestee out of jail is as simple as finding the proper place to pay the bond (usually the County Sheriff’s office — or municipal jails if the charges are class c misdemeanors.)

4.  If No Bond is Set, Find Out When that will Happen:  Magistrate judges normally set bonds.  Every county has their own way of doing this.  Some counties, like Dallas, have 24-hour magistrates that constantly arraign defendants.  In Collin County, most cities and the county itself bring in a magistrate around 8 or 9 every morning to see all of the arrestee’s from the previous day.  State law requires misdemeanors be set within 24-hours of arrest and felonies within 48-hours.

5.  If No Bond is Set on Collin or Dallas County Misdemeanors:  Dallas and Collin Counties allow writ bonds to be filed.  If your arrestee qualifies for jail release on a writ, you can call our 24-hour jail release at (214) 724-7065 or (972) 369-0577.

6.  If the Bond is High:  You have two options to help pay a high bond.  First is that you can go to a bail bondsman who can post a surety with the county in exchange for a fee.  The bondsman should have an account with the county that allows them to do this.  You can check with the county to see if your bondsman is reputable and in good standing.  The bondsman will have a financial interest in making sure the arrestee comes to court and resolving the case — so many require checking in and being informed about the case.  A bondsman reserves the right to have you re-arrested in the event they think the arrestee won’t come to court.  Bondsman cannot refer you to lawyers nor can they file writs to have bond set.  Only lawyers can do that.

A second option if the bond is too high is having a bond reduction hearing.  This would be done through a lawyer but it would need to be done during normal court hours (which means if the arrest was after-hours or on a weekend, the arrestee is stuck waiting).  Bond is legally designed to insure the person re-appears in Court and should not be used as a tool of early punishment or oppression.  Often there are other legal and strategical considerations with bond reduction hearings.

*Jeremy Rosenthal is an attorney licensed to practice in the State of Texas. Nothing in this article is intended to be legal advice. For legal advice about any situation you should contact a lawyer directly.  Communications through this forum are not privileged and do not create an attorney-client relationship.


Frisco City Jail Release — Writ Bonds

June 16, 2010

By Dallas and Collin County Criminal Defense attorney Jeremy Rosenthal

www.rosenthalwadas.com

(214) 724-7065  24-hour line

(972) 369-0577  office line

Hearing that a friend or loved one has been arrested for DWI is like seeing your house catch on fire.  Your first question is how to get them out.

Getting out of Frisco or Plano City Jail:

Collin County doesn’t like people arrested for misdemeanors (DWI’s, possession of marijuana, or theft below $1,500) to clog their jails.  There are policies in place to help get those people out of jail as soon as possible.  Those are referred to as “writ bonds” but in actuality are writs of habeas corpus.

Here’s how it works:

When someone is arrested, they see a magistrate judge who sets a bond amount.  When the bond is paid, the person is released.  Normally in Frisco or Plano, you would have to wait until the next morning to see the magistrate… which means you can’t post bond until usually the middle of the next day — and you don’t know how much that bond will be.

But — because Collin county policy disfavors people arrested on misdemeanors clogging the jail — they allow attorneys to file writs of habeas corpus (they call them writ bonds), which trigger instant cash bonds.

In english, this means that upon filing the right paper-work (and paying the bond), your friend or loved one might not have to wait until the next morning to be released for misdemeanor DWI, Theft, possession of marijuana or possession of a dangerous drug.

Additional Information

Collin County and Plano Writ bonds are only appropriate in a narrow set of instances.  The offense charged must be a Class B or A Misdemeanor (meaning no traffic tickets or felonies).  No assault or family violence charges either.  Also, the person cannot have any other holds from other cases keeping them in jail independently of the new charge.

Legally what is happening is that the lawyer is filing what is known as a “writ of habeas corpus” (Latin for “you have the body”) on behalf of his client — the person arrested.  It is a petition from relief for unlawful detention.  Don’t let the unlawful part throw you — it just means the person is being held without bond.  Collin County has a schedule of bonds which are set upon the filing of a writ by a lawyer on behalf of the client.  Once the bond is set, it can be paid like a cash bond (meaning that the person in custody is both the principal and surety — i.e. no bail bondsman is in the equation).  Months down the road when the case is completed, the bond money gets refunded back to the inmate (not the friend or family member paying the cash bond), or if the person doesn’t come to court — the bond money may be forfeited.

This process shouldn’t be confused with a bail bond.  That is where a bondsman posts the bond with the county on the inmate’s behalf.  This gives the bondsman incentive to make sure the released person goes to Court because if they don’t, they’re liable to the county for the money pledged.

Some lawyers can also be bail bondsmen but most aren’t.  A lawyer doesn’t have to be a bail bondsmen to file a writ of habeas corpus.  I am not a bail bondsman but you should know the difference if you’re visiting with a lawyer or a bondsman about any type of jail release.

 

*Jeremy F. Rosenthal is an attorney licensed to practice in the State of Texas.  Nothing in this article is intended to be legal advice.  For legal advice, please consult an attorney.

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