Is It Really Illegal to Pick Bluebonnets?

Every spring, the Texas landscape lights up with gorgeous bluebonnets that are beginning to bloom. Many are tempted to pick bluebonnets because they are so stunningly beautiful, but a lot of people are under the impression that it’s illegal to do so. Learning a little more about this beautiful flower, its importance and the laws regarding picking it can allow you to enjoy it more than ever this year.

Why are Bluebonnets so Important?

Although people all over often find bluebonnets to be enchantingly beautiful, they are particularly important to individuals who live in Texas. Known as the state flower, the bluebonnet is a crucial part of Texas’ springtime landscape and its heritage. In fact, it has been the state flower since 1901. In fact, there is a town, festival, song, tartan and trail all named in honor of the bluebonnet, which is also called the Ennis.

Not only do they grow naturally and have for years, but Texans are known for sprinkling their seeds along the medians and the sides of the highway so that everyone can enjoy their beautiful appearance as the weather begins to change. Since they grow in one of the most endangered ecosystems on earth, it’s critical to help them grow and to take good care of them so that other Texans can continue to enjoy them for years to come.

Is It Illegal to Pick Bluebonnets?

Even though many people think that it’s illegal to pick bluebonnets in Texas, this isn’t the case. There is no law that states that you can’t pick bluebonnets, but there are other laws that you need to abide by while enjoying these flowers and picking a few to take home.

How to Pick Bluebonnets Legally

It’s critical to remember that trespassing laws are still in effect during the blooming season of the beautiful bluebonnets, so you shouldn’t take pictures, look at or pick bluebonnets on private property. Respect any “No Trespassing” signs that you might come across while looking for bluebonnets to pick.

There are also laws in place about damaging or destroying property, so make sure that you’re respectful when picking your flowers. It’s okay to pick a few for personal use, but don’t take too many, and don’t dig up the plants. Also, be careful about trampling or driving over them; do what you can to preserve their beauty while picking and enjoying bluebonnets.

Also, remember to obey all traffic-related laws and guidelines. Slowing down to look at the bluebonnets can be dangerous if you’re driving too slowly on a busy highway, and it’s critical to be careful about where you park when getting out to enjoy them; don’t park too close to the road, and obey any signs that are in place regarding where you can and can’t park. Remember to use your turn signal when pulling on and off of the highway as well for safety reasons.

Basically, be safe, follow the law and be respectful when picking bluebonnets. Enjoy them, take pictures and pick a few to take home, but don’t take advantage of the fact that there are no laws that state that you can’t pick them. By being respectful, you can help ensure that you, your family and all of your fellow Texans can continue to enjoy the state flower for a long time to come.

How to Handle an Arrest

Getting arrested is a confusing, stressful and frightening time for anyone, and it is understandable that the person being arrested may not know what to do, who to call or where to turn for help. However, there are several “do’s and don’ts” to follow should someone be arrested for a crime.

DO NOT run away.

One of the most important things to remember when police come to serve an arrest warrant, or inform you that you are being arrested for a crime, is to go with them willingly. Running from the police or resisting arrest will only lead to additional charges, and could actually harm your case.

DO use your right to remain silent.

The United States Constitution gives you the right to remain silent even after you are arrested. You do not have to talk to the police, other than to provide them with your name and basic information. You do not have to give statements or answer questions. You do not need speak to anyone in law enforcement about your case until you have consulted an attorney.

DO NOT try to influence the police.

Never make statements such as “do you know who I am?” or mention people you know who may be friends with the police chief, mayor or politician. In many cases, name dropping or using your status to avoid arrest can work against you, so it is best not to try to influence the police with the names of people you know or by using your position in the community.

DO NOT make demands.

Although you are entitled to make a phone call, some jurisdictions must complete paperwork before they can allow you to make that call. Demanding things from the police will only serve to make your situation worse. In addition, by being polite and respectful, you may find the police will allow you more than one call.

DO make the call worthwhile.

When making the phone call, be sure it is someone who can help you with your situation. One suggestion is to call someone who is able to post bail for you. In some cases, this may not be your spouse, and since you may only be allowed to make one call, be sure it is to someone who can provide the assistance you need.

DO contact a bail bondsman.

Once you have been arrested, you will either be released on your own recognizance, which means there is no bail to be paid, or you will have a bail hearing, at which an amount will be set that you must post to get out of jail. Bail can be significant, and very few people have that kind of money at hand. In those situations, many people use the services of a bail bondsman by paying a portion of the bail up front, usually ten percent. The bail bondsman then pays the bond to the court. The fee paid to the bondsman is non-refundable, and if you fail to appear in court as scheduled, you will owe the bail bondsman the balance of the bond as well as wind up back in jail.

These simple dos and don’ts are important to remember if you are ever faced with arrest. In most cases, by being polite, respectful and the process will go smoothly. The most important things to remember after an arrest however, are that the services of a good and qualified bail bondsman are invaluable.

What Is An Arrest Warrant?

An arrest warrant is a legal document issued by a Judge. It gives law enforcement the authority to arrest the person named in the warrant. The warrant states that a crime was committed, the date it was committed, and that there is probable cause to believe that the person named in the warrant committed the crime. The warrant will specify the exact crime and indicate whether it is a felony or misdemeanor.

Individuals who are aware they have an outstanding warrant may arrange to do warrant walk though with a bondsman which will clear the warrant rather than wait to be arrested. This may gain favor with the Court and increase their chances of getting bail. It shows that they are not attempting to run from the law, which is one of the factors the Court looks at when determining bail.

How is one issued?

A warrant is usually issued at the request of law enforcement. Officers present evidence to a Judge. If the Judge finds that, based on the statements and evidence presented, probable cause exists to suspect the individual named in the warrant, the Judge will sign the warrant.

What happens next?

The suspect, once in police custody, may be asked to give a statement, which is not required. The suspect may invoke the right to remain silent and ask for an attorney. The suspect will usually be taken before the Magistrate Judge on the next business day for an arraignment and bail determination. The suspect is now called a defendant.

The Magistrate Judge can do one of the following:

    • Release the defendant on his/her own recognizance. This can occur if the crime is very small and the defendant has no prior record, is prominent in the community, is in good standing and otherwise not a flight risk.
    • Set bail at specific amount. The defendant can either arrange to pay the entire amount, which will be returned once the case is over, or pay a percentage of the amount to a bail bondsman. If the defendant absconds, the bondsman is responsible to the Court for the entire bail amount. The bondsman option is attractive for defendants who cannot afford to pay the entire bail amount up front.
    • Deny bail. The defendant can then request a formal bail hearing. Because the two main factors the Court considers when determining bail is whether the defendant is (1) a danger to the community and (2) a flight risk, the defendant will want witnesses at the hearing who can demonstrate that the defendant is peaceful, mild-mannered and has sufficient connections to the community that he/she would not abscond. Such connections can be demonstrated by showing that the defendant works in the area, goes to a local school or church and has family or friends in town.

How do you clear up a warrant?

Call a bail bondsman to arrange a warrant walk through which will clear the warrant and set a court date for you to resolve the case in court.

Is There A Limit To How Much Bail A Judge Can Require?

When you are arrested, except in rare circumstances, you have a right to post bail. This simply means that a certain amount of money is given to the court to guarantee that you will show up for your court date.

How is bail set for misdemeanor charges?

The more serious the charges are, the higher the requirement for bail. However, with misdemeanor charges, a judge may not even be involved. In many jurisdictions, there is a schedule of misdemeanors and the amount of bail needed for each. These charges are always those that are both petty crimes and non-violent. Bail amounts for these types of crimes are under $500 and are processed at the police station.

How is bail set for more serious charges?

For felonies and other serious charges, a judge will work off a basic schedule. There are typical bail amounts for each crime, and these amounts will vary from one jurisdiction to another; local criminal attorneys will always know what they are. These amounts may not be codified, but over time, there has been a precedent set for a typical amount for each type of charge. This is the starting point for the bail amount. Along with the judge, the district attorney’s office also knows what this typical amount is. At a bail hearing, the DA may argue that the bail should be higher while the defendant’s attorney may argue for less bail or no bail at all. The judge will hear arguments from both sides to determine whether the typical amount should be adjusted up or down.

What is the limit to the bail amount?

If the crime is serious enough, there will be no bail. This can be for certain cases of murder or repeat offenders. Any situation in which a judge believes that a suspect will be a danger to the community when released there is no bail. In cases where the probability of flight is high, bail will also be denied. Many people charged with white collar crimes such as embezzlement, may have a high probability of fleeing the court’s jurisdiction. This includes leaving the country.

Technically, there is no limit to how high a bail can go. Although violent offenders will be kept without bail, if the crime is non-violent and the defendant has the means to flee, the bail can be quite high. In fact, the highest bail in Untied States history occurred only a few years ago in 2009. Raj Rajaratnam, who headed a hedge fund management firm called the Galleon Group, was hit with a bail amount of $100 million. He was charged with insider trading relating to $20 million. He was able to raise the bail but was limited to movement within 100 miles of the court’s jurisdiction. In addition, he had to surrender his passport; this is common with those having large financial resources.

What is a Bounty Hunter?

When a defendant skips on bail, a bounty hunter can track down the fugitive for money, assisting law enforcement, bail bondsmen, and the public in the process. In contrast to the bounty hunters of long ago–who brought in fugitives dead or alive based on the demands of wanted posters–modern bounty hunters handle arrests and transport to jails.

Bounty Hunters & Bail Bonds

When a person is arrested, a judge will decide upon a bail amount that must be paid to free that person from jail until his or her scheduled court date. The purpose of bail is to increase the odds that the defendant will appear in court for trial. Defendants who present a high flight risk or danger to others may be denied a bail amount altogether. However, most defendants are given a set bail amount.

Often, defendants who cannot afford the bail amount seek out a bail bondsman, like those at Around the Clock Bail Bonds, to post bail for them. In exchange, the bondsman receives some portion of the total bail amount. If the defendant appears in court on the scheduled date, the bail is returned in full to the bail bondsman. However, if a defendant skips on bail, the bondsman is left with an unpaid bond. This is when they call in a bounty hunter.

Role of the Bounty Hunter

A bondsman cannot necessarily depend on law enforcement to track down the fleeing defendant. Instead, the bondsman hires the services of one or more bounty hunters to handle this task. The work is not easy, however if pays off well both in monetary value and in excitement. In fact, many bounty hunters have been known to value the thrill of the hunt over their income, which can be as high as $80,000 per year. Regardless of why they do their job, bounty hunters are more likely than law enforcement to find the offender, catching nearly 90 percent of defendants who jump bail.

Bounty hunters use a variety of techniques and tools in their search for criminals. Before taking any action, a bounty hunter will often compile research to determine where the target is hiding. This might include finding license plate numbers, addresses, social security information, phone numbers, and more. In addition, they may talk to family members, friends, or other acquaintances. Although it is not always necessary, bounty hunters typically carry some type of protection in case the target is dangerous.

Bounty Hunting and the Law

Bounty hunters are backed by U.S. law and even have greater arrest capabilities than local police agencies. By signing off on a bail bond, the accused sign away some of their constitutional rights giving bounty hunters the power to enter private property and arrest a defendant without reading them their rights. However, some aspects of a bounty hunter’s career are restricted by laws in certain states. For example, bounty hunters must be licensed or registered in some states, and others only let bounty hunters take custody of bail jumpers after local police have made the arrest.

Types of Bail Bonds

The following are the four most common types of bail bonds for defendants who do not have the option of being released on citation.

The Four Most Common Types of Bail Bonds:

Cash Bond

For a cash bond, hard cash is paid for the full amount of bail. The person who posts a cash bail can receive a refund after paying it, but the court will keep a portion of the money for administrative fees and may take several months to issue the refund. A cash bond is forfeited to the court if the defendant fails to appear in court even if it is an accidental forfeiture.

Surety Bond

The safest and easiest method for jail release is a surety bond (also referred to as a “bail bond”). It is often used when the defendant cannot afford to pay his or her total bail in cash or does not want to risk the forfeiture of a cash bond. In most cases, surety bonds are issued by bail bondsmen, like those at Around the Clock Bail Bonds. Typically, the bondsman charges a small percentage of the total bond in exchange for this service.

If the defendant fails to appear in court, it will force the bondsman to pay the entire value of the bond, in cash, to the county. When this happens, a bondsman may hire a bounty hunter to track down the defendant and return him or her to the custody of the court.

Personal Bonds

For a personal bond, a defendant is released with a small upfront cost with the assumption that he or she will appear at the scheduled court date. This bond is only granted to defendants who are judged to present no danger to others and are considering a very low flight risk. The unforeseen costs and inconvenience of a personal bond are the time and money used for required classes.

Property Bond

Some counties allow property bonds. For a property bond, the defendant provides the court with property as a form of bail bond. In most cases, the property must be valued at least twice as high as the bail amount. The court has a lien on the property, ensuring that it can take possession of the property if the defendant forfeits bail by failing to appear in court. A property bond can take significantly longer to complete than other bond types because the application requires a number of notarized documents and appraisals that verify the value of the property being offered as bond.