By Collin County Criminal Lawyer Jeremy Rosenthal
(214) 724-7065 (jail release line)
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.