You got arrested, found a bondsman, and got out of jail. You don't want to go back to jail, so there a few things you need to make sure you keep up with.
Many times the bond paper you receive will have a court date. In McLennan County, whether or not you have a court date depends on the nature of the charge. If you were arrested for a misdemeanor offense, you will probably have a date. If it's a felony, the bond may say "Instanter".
The term "Instanter" technically means at that moment, or instantly. However, it doesn't mean you have to go to court as soon as you get out of jail. Instead, it's used as more of a placeholder. By using this term, it means you will appear in court when directed. In felony cases, the case has to be presented to a grand jury. That may be done fairly quickly, or it may be several months. You won't have a court date until you are actually indicted. Once that is done, a case number and date will be assigned to your case, and the Court will set a date to appear for arraignment.
Misdemeanor cases are treated differently because the case doesn't have to go to the grand jury. Instead, the District Attorney can file an information, which serves the same purpose as an indictment. That is usually done more quickly. As with an indictment, once the information is filed you will be assigned a case number and a court.
Just because there is a date in the bond, that doesn't mean that is the date you will go to court. Sometimes the prosecutor may want to do some additional investigation, so they will wait to file an information. If they are not ready by the date specified in the bond, then you don't have to appear. However, you need to make sure you check and make sure that is the case. That means checking the day before you are supposed to appear.
How do you receive notice of your court date?
When you were arrested and booked into jail they wrote down your address. You need to make sure that is correct because that is where notices are sent. Normally, the Court will send notice to you if you are not represented by an attorney. The Court doesn't know that unless the attorney notifies them. If you haven't hired an attorney, it is your responsibility to keep up with your court date and make sure you appear.
Since the bond company has promised the Court you will show up for court, they are usually pretty good about keeping up with court dates. They are also usually good about making sure you know about your court dates. However, remember, it is still your responsibility to show up. If you don't the bondsmen is only out money; you, however, lose your freedom by going back to jail.
Keeping your bondsmen happy
You should always remember that you are out of jail because of your bondsmen. If you decide to "go off" of your bond, you can go back to jail. Most bonding companies have a schedule for checking in. Make sure you comply with that. Also, if you owe them money, make sure you pay it. They are under no obligation to stay on bond. If you don't pay or don't check in like you're supposed to, they will go to court and ask to be released from your bond. Once they a day a warrant will be issued to take you back into custody.
What happens if you don't show
Failure to appear for a court is a serious matter. Not only can your bond be revoked, it is also a new offense. If you are on bond for a felony, the charge will be a felony. Likewise, if you are on bond for a misdemeanor, it will be a misdemeanor. That means that instead of one charge, you now have two.
Mistakes do happen. The best advice if you miss a date is to promptly notify your bondsmen, and your attorney if you have one. If there is a legitimate reason for missing, they may be able to avoid having the bond revoked. It's important to do this quickly because the longer you wait, the more likely it is that things are going to turn out badly.
If your bond is revoked, you will have to post a new bond. Sometimes you will have to go back to the court and have another bond set. Other times the court will set a new bond when the old one is revoked. It is always going to be higher, which means you are going to be out more money. You also will lose all the money you put up to post bond in the first place.
Take this seriously
It always amazes me how cavalier some people seem to be about court dates. While most people are diligent about keeping up with them, some don't seem to be concerned at all. This is a serious matter, and you need to take it seriously. I've seen too many take a simple case and turn it into a big problem because they didn't take it seriously. Don't make that mistake!
If you haven't hired an attorney yet, please reach out and let us help. You can fill out the contact form on this page, or give us a call. If we can't help, we will be happy to help you find someone who can. This is your life and your future - you owe it to yourself and your family to do everything you can to make the best decisions.