By Collin County Criminal Defense attorney Jeremy Rosenthal
(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.
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 and is Certified in Criminal Law by the Texas Board of legal Specialization. Nothing in this article is intended to be legal advice. For legal advice, please consult an attorney.