What is a PR Bond?

What is a PR Bond?

Today we are going to talk about PR bonds. All hope is not lost if you are charged with a crime, you have pretrial options and one of them is the PR bond. A PR bond, also known as a Personal Recognizance Bond, is when a Judge allows the defendant to be released without any deposit or collateral. Defendants still have to promise to appear in court even though they had their bond conditions removed. These bonds are very rare, and if they are granted then the release is on their personal recognizance.

How are PR Bonds obtained?

To be granted a PR bond, the judge takes in a number of factors such as the type of case it is, if it was violent or non-violent as well as the defendant’s criminal history. Other things the judges look for are if they have a good standing in the community in which they reside. These will be typically granted if the defendant has no criminal history, in other cases the defendant may need to write a one-page letter to the judge explaining the situation. This motion could go through the title of Motion for Personal Recognizance Bond or Motion for Bond Reduction.

After the motion has been submitted you have to request and set a date for evidence to be provided for why the defendant needs the PR bond. The opportunity to receive a PR bond is very rare and aren’t necessarily given out frequently, so defendants must be prepared to give a good case the first time they apply for it.

Should I get a PR bond?

There are many advantages to getting a PR bond. The first is that you are not incarcerated during the duration of your court case, so you will be able to be at home with friends and family and not in jail. The second big advantage is that you are able to avoid a bond deposit. This does not mean however that it’s completely free and you may need to pay additional undisclosed costs such as having to visit a probation officer for a cost or signing up for a class. Since PR bonds are exclusively given out by a judge, you may have to wait and indefinite amount of time until the judge is ready to see you, so you have no guarantee on when exactly you will be out if you go for the PR bond.

Bail Bond

The History of Bail Bonds

The history of bail bonds can be seen from the very formation of the United States. What is important to understand about the United States legal system is that it is derived from its European roots. It is for this reason that there are a plethora of statutes and legal theories that have traveled across the Atlantic Ocean and made there way into the United States legal culture. The reason for this is that the founding fathers needed to form a government quickly in the wake of the revolution. Thus, one of the principles that was adopted was the practice of bail bonds in the new government that was forming in the United States.

Bail bonds have been in practice in the British legal system for centuries. In fact, in medieval times, there were too many prisoners that were in jail and a decision had to be made as to which criminals to keep in jail. What made the process flawed was that many of the criminals did not want to turn up to trials when their punishments were torture and being burned at the stake. For this reason, there had to be a way to motivate the criminals who were released to return to jail.

What was the problem with the decision making of which criminals to release in society was that too much power was left to the local sheriff about which criminals to release. This led to a great deal of corruption with sheriffs having too much power to choose which criminals to release based on brides. In 1275, the Parliament passed the statute of Westminster to take away some of the authority sheriffs. The statute indicated which crimes were bailable offenses and which ones were not. This statute created a great deal of clarity and did not have any amendments for hundreds of years.

The United States implicated this practice in its new government. However, the practice was not officially codified until almost 200 years later. The United States Congress passed the Bail Reform Act of 1966. The Bail Reform Act of 1966 stated that any defendant that was in the midst of facing trial for a non-capital offense should be released “on his personal recognizance” or on personal bond. That being said, if the court had the instinct that the defendant could possibly leave town, the judge would then have the authority to choose a more restrictive option that would potentially limit the defendant’s travel and/or executing an appearance bond that would be refunded when the defendant successfully appeared in court.

The legal concept of bail bonds has a fascinating history in the United States given its English roots that have been in place for centuries. The logic behind bail bonds has been an incredible contribution to the criminal justice system because it was one of the theories that led away from some of the harsher punishments in England. By eliminating one of the elements of corruption associated with these offenses it allowed the criminal justice system to evolve into the model we see today that promotes a more just trial and incarceration system. By utilizing bail bonds, the criminal justice system has greatly benefited as a whole and will do so for the years to come.

Prop One and the Cost of Drunk Driving

With Austin residents deciding that they no longer wanted Uber/ Lyft to operate inside of the city by voting down prop 1, an early concern of many is the positive influence the ride sharing companies had on the amount of drunk driving happening in the cities. While personal responsibility is the most important part of preventing DWIs, a larger set of options helps make the option of driving drunk less likely. During this time it is important to remember that a DWI is not worth it under any circumstances.

 

The True Cost of a DWI/DUI

A DWI is one of the most common legal challenges that can befall someone, it is also one of the most expensive. There are many costs associated with it that are straightforward; the legal fees and penalties directly associated with the DUI being the main costs in this category. However there are also several hidden costs associated with a DUI from the time spent in jail and going to court to the potential harm to your current and future career.

 

Legal Fees and Penalties

Even a first time DUI conviction can cost up to $10,000. The fine for a DUI is actually one of the smaller costs associated with a DUI coming in at 500-1800 dollars. The largest cost associated with a DUI however is the cost of hiring a lawyer for your defense. Lawyers charge an average of 2500-4000 dollars to represent a client in a DUI case. Other non trivial amounts can be charged to get get a car out of impound, the cost of towing, attaching an interlock device to your car and the the cost of administering a blood alcohol test. ]

 

Other Costs

Common estimates predict that a loss of income totally between $1000 and $4000 associated with a DUI. Also, anyone with a DUI conviction on their record will indeed tell you that after they have paid the legal fees and fines, they have to pay for their mistake for a long time after every time they go to pay their car insurance policy. For just a single DUI insurance can increase from 4500-10000 over the life of the policy.

 

These costs coupled with the fees, fines and hassle make it important to remember that even though Uber/ Lyft is no longer an option to get home safely, driving drunk is not one either.

When Would Bail be Denied?

When a person is arrested for a crime, they’re taken into custody and booked accordingly. After all of the paperwork has been completed, suspects go through a bail hearing. Bail is the process by which a person is either released or held in jail. The majority of misdemeanor crimes require a person to be released automatically, but felonies have varying consequences. In fact, bail can be denied entirely in specific cases.

Repeat Offender

If a suspect has been charged with a crime while on parole, the court doesn’t often have sympathy for that person. They’ve displayed no regard for their previous crime or concerns for the current offense. In response, a judge could deny bail on the grounds that the suspect will only willfully commit offenses again while allowed to go free. It’s often safer to keep the suspect in custody until a trial can be decided for the good of society.

Flight Risk

A suspect could be a flight risk and denied bail. A flight risk is a person who displays erratic behavior and might leave the city, state or country. It’s more difficult to try a person for a crime if they’re housed in an entirely different country, for instance. When a judge sees a history of running from the law, they’ll normally err on the side of caution and keep the person in jail. A flight risk often extends to non-citizens too because they can exit the country faster than a United States citizen.

Severe Crime Involvement

The United States justice system cannot let a person accused of brutal murder out on bail. Severe crimes like these must be treated with the utmost respect. Every severe crime, from manslaughter to rape, is treated differently than other charges. These suspects must be held in custody until they’re released according to a jury’s guilty or innocent decision. The court cannot be held responsible if a released suspect commits another severe crime while awaiting trial.

Immediate Threat to Self or Others

Unstable suspects cannot be released on bail because they could hurt themselves or others. In certain situations, the court may release the suspect into a treatment facility instead of jail while a trial is being prepared. Every situation is unique, however, so judges must take the person’s medical and personal history into account before deciding on the right course of action. Outright bail is never granted to potentially violent offenders.

Denied Bail Response

The judge is the final decision-maker when it comes to setting bail. If a suspect is denied bail, they must return to jail and wait until their next hearing. Suspects can ask for another bail release at this next hearing date. In other cases, some suspects even appeal to a higher court system for a different bail outcome. Suspects must have a specific positive aspect to their potential release because the higher court will uphold the previous judge’s decision if extenuating circumstances aren’t involved. In the end, the presiding judge must decide on what is safe for the suspect and surrounding neighborhood.

It’s in the suspect’s best interest to remain within the law while they’re out on bail. Judges and juries are more lenient toward suspects who respect their bail and face their mistakes in a court of law. Jumping or skipping bail only creates more problems for the suspect in the future.

How Judges Set Bail Amount

Bail is a set amount of money that is given to a court to ensure that a criminal defendant will return for a court appearance after an arrest. Though we often hear about bail in criminal proceedings, and that a judge has set bail at a certain amount, it can be hard for those outside of the legal profession to understand how the process works and how a judge decides what’s an appropriate amount. How is the amount of bail needed to ensure that the defendant will return to court set? What are the factors involved?

Here’s an overview of the key points that will be considered when a judge sets bail. The judge will take into consideration:

The nature of the crime committed and the circumstances surrounding it.

The evidence that exists against the defendant, and how likely it is to lead to conviction.

The defendant’s history in a community as well as family ties, their mental state, their finances and employment history.

The past and present conduct of the defendant, including whether or not they have ever been convicted of a crime, and if they ever failed to appear when called to court.

The defendant’s criminal history and the chance that they will be a threat to the community if they are released after an arrest.

A defendant’s criminal status. This is a major factor in setting bail. If the defendant is currently already on parole, on probation or on release from another crime, these factors will definitely impact the amount of bail set.

The source of a defendant’s finances. This is a factor especially if their income seems to stem from a history of criminal activity.

If the arrest is on a drug related charge. If drugs are involved, the street value of the drugs will have a definite impact on the amount of bail set. A high value on the drugs would indicate a high level of bail, as the higher level points to more serious charges against the defendant.

In general, the law gives a judge great leeway in setting bail, as judges are allowed to consider any other factors that seem relevant to the case, above and beyond the factors listed above.

Once bail is set, the defendant must endure a booking process, and then post the bail, or arrange to have it posted for them. On release, the defendant will wait for an arraignment of their case.

If a defendant is not deemed a “flight risk” by the court, that is to say, the judge does not believe that the defendant would fail to show up for their scheduled court appearance, they may be released on their own “recognizance.” In that case, they would be expected to appear in court and be responsible for getting there at the appointed time and day.

All the above factors have a lot to do with the dollar amount that is set for a defendant’s bail, but clearly, the judge in the case has the ultimate power to set that amount, according to their understanding of the nature of the crime and the defendant’s character.

What is a PR Bond?

Preparing for a Bail Hearing

Bail operates to secure your presence at future court hearings. The bail hearing will be your first court appearance. A judge or magistrate will be present along with a prosecutor. You have the right to have an attorney present on your behalf. The prosecutor will often make their recommendation on bond to the judge. If you’re represented by counsel, your attorney will make their own recommendation. In his or her sound discretion, the judge will determine the type and amount of bail.

Form of bail
Depending on the crime that you’re charged with, bail might consist of a written promise to appear in the future with a cash bail should conditions be violated. It might also consist of posting cash or some form of property with the court before you can be released. Various factors can influence whether a signature bail or cash bail will be required. Be prepared to answer questions along the following lines:Seriousness of the crime alleged
Whether the crime alleged is a misdemeanor or a felony is taken into consideration. Allegations of violence and drug crimes, and whether you’re a threat to the community might be examined more closely than others. A signature bond or lower cash bond is usually permitted for misdemeanors.Existing warrants
Any outstanding warrants for previous crimes will result in your being detained until such time as the jurisdiction that issued the warrant can respond. If the warrant is for failure to appear, the bond hearing might be continued for a short date to determine how the other jurisdiction will respond.

Family ties in the area
Your judge might want to know where you’ll stay and who you’ll be with during the pendency of the case. These might be the people you’ll rely on to help keep you out of further trouble with the law.

Steady employment
You’ll be asked if you have a job. If you do, be prepared to tell the judge where you work, how long you’ve worked there and your hours of work. They might also ask about a prior work history before your present job.

Property you own
In more serious cases, the court will inquire into ownership of real estate, vehicles and other personal property. A home, vacant real estate or personal property might be pledged for bail.

Prior criminal history
Lack of prior arrests will operate as a mitigating factor. Any prior convictions might be aggravating and influence the judge in setting a higher bond. They’ll have your prior history available and possibly in front of them. Tell the truth.

History of drug or alcohol abuse
Abuse of drugs or alcohol can impair judgment to the extent that a person might ignore future court dates. Prior drug or alcohol convictions can result in a higher bail amount. If you do make bail, you might be required to be periodically tested while out on pretrial release.

If you can’t post a bail bond, you can bring a motion to reduce the amount. Again though, any reduction is within the sound discretion of the judge. Be prepared to fully comply with any conditions that the judge might order.

Texas Traffic Violations

What types of traffic offenses are prevalent in Texas?
There are many different violations and tickets that can cause you to be pulled over and cited within the state of Texas. Some of the more common traffic stops usually result in a traffic ticket for items such as speeding, running a red light, driving without insurance, driving without a valid driver’s license at the time of the stop, not having a license at all, or DWI offenses, just to name a few. Fines for these items can also vary widely depending on which county and city the stop and ticket were issued within, as there can be differing ordinances governing each particular area.

What should you do if police stop you?
This situation can be quite nerve wracking, but the key is to remain calm. Pull to the right and slow down and make a complete stop off the roadway as soon as able. The officer will follow and pull in behind you. Do not get out of the vehicle and keep your hands within plain view as the officer approaches to prevent any issues with the officer thinking you are perhaps armed. The officer will likely ask for your license, registration and possibly insurance verification paperwork. Generally speaking, law enforcement will run this information to see if there are any outstanding wants or warrants for the detained individual. Further, if you are stopped, you may also verify the officer is legitimate by asking him or her to provide a badge or identification number and calling in to 911 to confirm the officer’s identity in case there is a concern. Cooperate with officer instructions and be polite! Chances are, if you follow these guidelines, you will receive a citation and be on your way in short order.

What are the consequences of a traffic citation in Texas?
By and large, most traffic citations result in fines of varying costs depending on the charge presented. Speeding tickets, for example, can range from $500 to several thousand dollars depending upon the location of the infraction (in a construction zone or near a school as opposed to an interstate highway) whereas a mechanical problem such as a non-working headlight can be a simpler and smaller fine overall. Moving offenses such as speeding do occasionally permit users to attend traffic school to remove points from their licenses that could result in an increased cost for automobile insurance or further fines as points accrue.

Are there any other options for traffic citations?
Cited individuals do also have the potential for attend a court hearing to provide their side of the traffic incident and allow a judge to make a ruling on what was occurred. However, should the judge find in favor of the officer, the cited party would then be responsible for both the initial fines levied as well as court costs. It may be advisable to consult with a tax attorney to pursue this course of action if that is desired.

Cash, Surety and Immigration Bonds

When someone you love is jailed, it can feel like the world is crashing in. You want to help but aren’t sure what to do – and there are so many legal terms to understand! Words like “bail,” “cash bond,” “surety bond” and “bondsman” may be used, or even “immigration bond,” depending on the reason for arrest. If you’ve never heard these terms before, they can be very confusing. What do they mean? Which one is best? Here is a short guide to help with the basics, so you have the information you need to make the right choice.

First, the word “bail.” Bail is the money that is paid to get someone out of jail until their case has been decided. There are three main ways bail can be paid – by cash bond, by surety bond or by immigration bond.

Cash Bonds

A cash bond is exactly what it sounds like – cash, paid to the court by the arrestee or a friend or family member. If the arrestee shows up for court as required, the person paying cash bail might be able to get some of it back, although the court will deduct fees and charges from the amount it returns. However, there can be drawbacks to this approach. Often, bail is set too high to be affordable. Also, the court may view the arrestee’s ability to come up with cash as an indication they are able to pay higher court costs/fees and hire a private attorney. In addition, the cost of a public defender, if used, can be deducted from the amount returned.

Surety Bonds

A surety bond, on the other hand, requires hiring a bail bondsman, who is paid a fee equal to a percentage (usually 10-20%) of the bail amount set. A contract is signed stating that the signer will be responsible for paying the rest of the bail if the arrestee fails to appear for court. The bondsman may also require the signer to put up property as collateral in case the arrestee fails to appear. The benefits of this are that the out of pocket expense is far less, the use of a bondsman won’t be considered an indication of an ability to pay higher fees/costs and it won’t negatively affect the arrestee’s ability to qualify for a public defender. On the other hand, the percentage paid to a bail bondsman is his fee and will not be returned to the person who signs the contract even if the arrestee does everything s/he is supposed to do. And in cases where collateral was required, the person signing with the bail bondsman could lose the property used for collateral if the arrestee doesn’t show up for court.

Immigration Bonds

Immigration bonds are used when an individual is arrested for being in the United States illegally. There are two types. Delivery bonds are used to ensure that the detainee will show up to immigration hearings as required, much like the ones described above. Voluntary departure bonds, on the other hand, are used to ensure that the detainee will leave the country at his/her own expense by the date stipulated. Both of these types can be paid for by cash or by surety bonds as described above and with many of the same benefits and drawbacks.

The Federal Bail Bond System

Federal bail bonds operate in much the same way that other bonds work. Money or collateral is presented to the court for a defendant who is awaiting trial after arraignment. The defendant is then allowed to leave the federal detention center and live normally. Some judges might place conditions of release on the individual that state the person cannot travel or cannot contact certain people. The defendant must be present and on time at every court appearance until the trial has ended. Failure to do so means the federal courts will seize the cash or assets used to secure the bond. That money is not normally returned. The collateral or cash will not be touched if the rules are followed and the defendant makes all court appearances. The bond is dissolved when the trial ends.

Differences with Commercial Bail Bonds

Although the basic purpose and framework for federal bail bonds seems familiar, there are actually a number of significant difference from what people are used to with commercial bail bonds at the state and county level. The federal system is stricter, slower and less trusting. You should know the main differences:

  • It Can Take Much Longer
  • The first difference is that it can take a long time to get a federal bail bond. There are many steps involved in securing a bail bond at the federal level. You might spend anywhere from a week to a month trying to get the bail bond. It can even take days to have the defendant released from the detention center after the bond is approved. This makes the federal bail bond process less convenient.

  • No Set Bail Schedules
  • A major difference is that there are no set bail schedules for federal bail bonds. A schedule is a state or county list of offenses and the bail amounts that every person arrested for those crimes needs to pay. Federal bail amounts are completely arbitrary. The judge decides whether bail is necessary. The judge also decides the amount of the bail bond based on the offense and personal opinions. This means some bail bonds might be exceptionally high for no apparent reason.

  • Full Collateral Is Required
  • Another prime difference is that full collateral is required from the start. You are not able to pay just a percentage or a small amount to get a federal defendant released. You must have enough money and assets to cover the entire cost of the bail bond. If you do not have the full amount available, then the person remains in custody.

  • Nebbia Hearings
  • The most glaring difference is that you must go through a Nebbia hearing to prove you have the collateral necessary. You are basically a defendant trying to prove you can secure the bail bond. The Nebbia hearing also forces you to prove that the collateral or cash you are presenting was not gained through illegal activities. The hearing can take a long time to complete.

  • Breaking the Conditions of Release Can Lead To Forfeiture
  • A final difference is that breaking the conditions of release can lead to forfeiture of a federal bail bond. If a person is ordered not to travel or to avoid contact with a person and the defendant breaks that condition, then the court is free to start forfeiture. This means the collateral and cash will be seized and the defendant placed back in detention.

Suspended/Revoked Licenses: Consequences, Fines and Penalties

Simply put, driving with a suspended or revoked license status is a serious matter that is not quickly or easily resolved. We will cover just what are some of the possible consequences, penalties and jail time scenarios confronting those with a suspended or revoked license.

Possible Consequences

Consequences for a first offense vary and depend on the law requirements of each state and the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). They also depend on the severity of the violation, the circumstances and if there were any repeat violations for driving with a suspended license. In any case, no state issues a driver license if there is an active suspension in another state; shared licensing information exists in all 50 states.

  • In addition to the costs associated with a first traffic ticket resulting in a license suspension, other hidden fees and expenses may be added and emerge. If the case is severe enough, then the DMV may require an individual to apply for a new driver’s license; moreover, new driving test fees would then apply.
  • It is a matter of fact that car insurance companies consider a suspended driver a bad risk. A suspended license usually results from: several traffic ticket violations, excessive points and/or for more serious offenses such as reckless driving, DUI and fleeing the scene of an accident. Regardless of the reasons, higher auto insurance premiums come almost automatically with a suspension.
  • Typically, the court will mandate defensive driving training/education courses that require tuition costs. If an individual is suspended for DUI, fleeing the scene of an accident and/or drug possession while driving, then courses covering these conditions will also be required in addition to the other mandatory classes.
  • Furthermore, if DUI was behind the suspension, one may have to buy an ignition interlock device that requires passing an alcohol breath test–before an auto can be started.
  • A possible felony charge may result in long-term legal consequences. Should this be the case, such a court-mandated charge could prevent a person from voting, running for office, holding certain business licenses and/or owning firearms.
  • When the time comes for actually reinstating a suspended license, the driver comes under rigid scrutiny by the DMV.

State Laws Determine The Fines

Being that a suspension is a Class 1 misdemeanor, the potential range of punishment is up to 12 months jail time and/or a $2,500 fine. The exact amount of a reinstatement fee depends on the DMV of the particular state in which the offense occurred. Moreover, the severity/reasons for the license being suspended may also determine the fines.

In Rhode Island, for instance, it costs $151.50 to reinstate a license; however, Wisconsin charges a $60 reinstatement fee. In contrast, DUI offenses in any state typically carry much higher penalties.

Potential Imprisonment

Depending on the facts related to the case, a first-time offense may incur jail time. The second time around for a repeat offense usually will get jail time. If previously charged with driving on a suspended license, then a repeat offense within the last 10 years guarantees going to jail; however, usually it is for a few days and not months.

A third-time offense can bring a state-wide mandatory minimum of 10 days in jail with further offenses meaning longer jail time even up to one year. In some cases, community service time can be arranged in lieu of jail time or in addition to jail time.

Whether it’s a first time license suspension, DUI conviction or whatever the circumstances, licenses that carry a suspension/revocation status trigger serious consequences that can impact the life of those having been charged with such violations.