Even though there are sites online that say they can find out about arrest warrants (for a fee), the most accurate ones are the ones maintained by governmental entities. Often bonding companies will look up whether there is an active warrant on you at no expense.
Even so, if you or a loved one believes there may be a warrant out for your arrest on a serious matter or you are under investigation, please get criminal defense attorney help immediately to determine the status of the warrant and investigation. Often early intervention can lead to a better result.< Back
When a person is arrested in Harris County and the surrounding counties, they are taken to the county jail. Sometimes they are asked to change into the standard jail issued clothes. Within several hours of arriving at the jail, an arrested person is supposed to be taken before a magistrate.
A magistrate in this context is an unelected person appointed to make early decisions about important matters such as how much the bond is going to be. The magistrate can also impose conditions on a person’s release, or conditions of bond. There is usually a magistrate on duty all the time.
There is usually a period of hours between the time that a person is arrested and the time that a bond is set and able to be made. Before that, it is not currently possible to get out of jail.
Sometimes, and rarely, the magistrate will pass on setting a bond at all. Defendants are usually brought to court within a couple of days when they have not made bond. During this first court appearance the defendant’s lawyer will usually ask the elected judge to set a bond amount and the Judge will often set conditions of bond, such as monitors of various types.< Back
The short answer is by bonding them out with straight cash, or having a bondsman bail the person out. For many misdemeanors, there is no need to post a bond because judges and magistrates are more inclined towards “pre-trial bonds.”
If a person gets a pre-trial bond it means the person does not need to post any money. However, a pre-trial bond usually has some strings attached. Defendant’s that are “on pre-trial” usually are required to be supervised by pre-trial officer. It is a lot like being on probation and involves being drug tested randomly.
When the allegations in a case are serious, it is more common for magistrates to set high bonds instead of pre-trial bonds. We see many cases where the bond is set between ten and one hundred thousand dollars. When this is the case it is often not financially feasible to post the entire bond in cash.
The way bonding companies work is that they take a fee of usually ten percent, and they vouch that the defendant is going to appear in court when they are supposed to. If the defendant does not show to court, the bondsman will be on the hook for the entire amount. If a person does not show to court and they don’t have an excuse, the bondsman will usually start looking for the person.< Back
In Harris County and the surrounding counties, it is usually a matter of how long it takes to get before a magistrate. At that point, it is a matter of waiting for the bond information to hit the County Clerk’s computer system. Then, a person is processed out after the bond is made, or a pre-trial bond is set.
Over the years, we have seen the process take as little as three or four hours, all the way up to 24 to 48 hours.< Back
Recently there has been a shift in the bonding process. Magistrates and judges are regularly setting a pre-trial bonds (meaning no money). However, the more serious misdemeanors and felony cases still have high bonds set on them.
In theory, a person is less likely to ignore their case and skip court if they have a financial stake in it. In theory, a person is less likely to run off if they stand to lose all the money they put up.
When a defendant fails to appear in court, the judge regularly revoke and forfeit the bond. This means all the money put up on the bond is gone for good. If a bondsman is involved, they usually keep close tabs on the defendants for whom they wrote a bond.< Back
A person’s name and date of birth is usually all that is needed to get the process started.< Back
When a bond is set at a certain number, and a person (usually a parent or a loved one) presents the entire amount of the bond in cash at the bonding window, it is referred to as a “cash bond.” When a bondsman makes the bond, it is usually referred to as a “surety bond.”< Back