I’m in jail. I’m scared. How can I get out?
Your loved one has been arrested on the side of the road in the middle of the night, or at work in the middle of the day for all to see. They are scared, nervous and often will enter a completely new place and environment…jail. All they want is to get out as fast as possible.
First, in almost all cases, we must wait for the police officer to return a document known as a Probable Cause Affidavit in order for any Judge to sign a bond to release someone. This document is a summary written by the police officer as to why the officer had probable cause to believe a crime was committed and the accused is the person who committed the crime. For misdemeanors offenses, the officer has up to 24 hours to submit this document, but it is often submitted within the first couple of hours.
As we are waiting for the officer’s affidavit, in Travis County, the accused is provided with the opportunity to interview with Travis County Pretrial Services to see if they will recommend release on a personal bond. A personal bond is a promise to pay a certain amount if the accused does not return to court. Usually no money is due up front. The Pretrial Services Officer may call you and ask you if you believe the person will attend all court dates and may ask you if he has a drug or alcohol problem. If you are the alleged victim in the case, you may be asked if you are afraid of the person. They will also attempt to verify a good address where the person can live.
When you hire an attorney for the jail release, we will go to the court, once the officer’s affidavit is complete, and will attempt to convince the Judge to release the individual from jail. If the Judge signs the bond, it usually takes approximately 4-6 hours for the person to be out-processed from the jail. Then you can come pick up your loved one at the Travis County Jail in the courtyard of San Antonio St between 10th and 11th streets in Austin.
Please note that if the charge involves domestic violence, the release time is longer. Oftentimes the complaining witness requests an emergency protective order and your loved one will have to wait until the magistrate reads the person the protective order. There is almost no exception to this step and the wait can be several hours.
Additionally, the Judge may order several conditions upon the release of an accused, including having to install an interlock device on their car (a machine to blow into to start the car) for DWI type offenses, electronic monitoring (house arrest), a GPS bracelet to be worn on the ankle, a SCRAM (Secure Remote Alcohol Monitoring) bracelet to be worn on the ankle which can detect alcohol, and order that the accused not have contact with the complaining witness or go a certain distance from her residence. These devices may sometimes be removed with permission of the court some time later in the case.
Outside of Travis County, your options are more limited, and the release process will normally involve paying a bondsman to get the accused out of jail.