What Happens if Charged with Violation of Bond Conditions in Texas?
After a person is arrested on criminal charges in Texas, one of the most important points the judge will cover during your initial appearance or arraignment is the possibility of remaining out of jail pending the trial date. Once you are read your rights and the charges by a magistrate, you may qualify for pretrial release by posting bail or obtaining a bond.
The benefits of being out on bond/bail pending the resolution of your case are numerous and arguably affect the outcome of your case. You are free to continue working to support your family, engage with your community, and maintain normalcy to the greatest extent possible. Plus, you can participate in defending the charges more actively and assisting your criminal defense attorney.
However, the court takes on a crucial risk by allowing pretrial release. To counter the possibility that the defendant will flee, Texas criminal laws on bail impose a sort of insurance policy to protect the government’s interests. You pay a “premium” in the form of a bond or bail, and the court gets assurance that you will show up for all required appearances.
Additional details are covered below, but one of the most important points of the arrangement is what happens if you are charged with a violation of bond conditions in Texas. The ramifications can be harsher than you expect, hitting you in the wallet and possibly leading to criminal penalties. It is wise to discuss your situation with a Texas City criminal defense lawyer who can assist with your case, and some background information is useful.
Overview of Pretrial Release in Texas
Before getting to the issue of bond violations, it is helpful to get the layout of the laws. Initially, you should appreciate the differences between bail and bond. The terms are often used interchangeably, but the specific definitions are important:
- Bail refers to the security that a criminal defendant provides to the court as a promise to return to court for all appearances in the case. This security, typically money, can be given through a personal bond or bail bond. There are conditions attached to pretrial release, and the judge will include the terms in the order entered after your arraignment.
- Bond is the arrangement a defendant in a criminal case works out to meet the financial requirements of getting bail for pretrial release. A bail bond is an undertaking between the accused and a surety company, in which the surety deposits the funds required for bail as collateral; the defendant pays a fee for this service. In this situation, you don’t get that money/fee you pay the surety back at the end of the case.
If you comply with all terms set by the court between your arraignment and trial date, the bail funds are returned to the surety. A violation of bond conditions results in forfeiture, as well as a breach of the agreement that you made with the bail bond company.
Common Bond Conditions Set by the Court
Every case is different, so the judge will assign various terms according to the severity of the offense, your history, potential threat to the public, being a flight risk, and other factors. The details are included in the Order Setting Conditions of Bond/Release. If you were arrested and are on pretrial release, you may be subject to the following bond conditions:
- You cannot leave the state of Texas until trial, subject to court permission.
- The judge could prohibit you from using any controlled substances, including prescription medications that include narcotics.
- You must maintain suitable employment based upon your education, skills, and training.
- You will be required to report to an officer of the court, and these sessions will likely include drug testing.
- For many DUI cases and charges involving alcohol abuse, you might be ordered to refrain from alcohol. The court could also require you to install an ignition interlock device (IID) as part of bond conditions.
- You might be prohibited from possessing a firearm.
Special Rules for Family Violence Cases
There is a statute that covers bond and bail in domestic violence cases, and it includes provisions on what happens when the accused fails to comply with bond conditions. The law creates a separate offense when a defendant violates certain court orders or bonds in a case involving family violence, sexual assault, stalking, or trafficking. You could be arrested for:
- Committing an additional offense of family violence
- Improper communications with a protected individual or member of the family, including threats
- Being present at or near the accuser’s residence, place of employment, or childcare facility that provides services for protected children
- Possessing a firearm
- Harming, threatening, or interfering with a pet or companion animal possessed by your accuser
Violation of bond conditions for a domestic violence case is a Class A Misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in jail and a $4,000 fine. However, the crime is a third-degree felony if you were previously convicted under the same law two or more times, or when the violation comes through an assault or stalking offense. A conviction could lead to a minimum of 2 years in prison, though a judge could order up to 10 years’ incarceration.
Additional Facts About Bail and Bond
In addition to the above information, you might benefit from reviewing some other concepts that could affect your case.
- Bond conditions are not set in stone. You can contest unfair terms and should do so right away if you know you will experience challenges with them. It is possible to revise, modify, or eliminate conditions that create serious disruptions.
- The prosecution can also dispute the bond conditions set by the court. If the prosecutor has evidence showing that you are likely to flee or present a public safety risk, the judge might establish more restrictive rules.
- Even minor violations can mean a return to custody until your trial date. Alternatively, breaking the rules could lead the court to change the terms of your pretrial release.
- Though timelines vary, a criminal case could last 6 months or longer – during which time you will be required to report to an officer of the court and meet all bond conditions.
Consequences for Violation of Bond Conditions
In the US, you know that you are innocent until proven guilty. Because bond and bail are factors for pretrial release, there has only been an arrest – not a conviction. As a result, violating bond conditions is not a crime with the exception of domestic violence cases and bail jumping. However, there are still consequences for not complying with the court’s order.
- After violating the conditions of the bond once, you can be sure the judge will not make the mistake of allowing you to do it again. You will likely be remanded to the jail to await your trial date on the charges you were arrested on.
- Your violation of bond conditions forced the surety to forfeit the amount of bail it deposited on your behalf. The bail bond company will take action to get its money back.
- Misconduct with respect to bonds makes a poor impression on the court and could impact sentencing if you are convicted for the underlying criminal offense.
- Bail jumping and failure to appear is a Class A Misdemeanor in Texas, and it is a form of violating bond conditions. If convicted, you could be sentenced to a year in jail, a $4,000 fine, or both. If you jumped bail for a felony offense, the crime is a third-degree felony. Your punishment could include 2 to 10 years in prison, along with a $10,000 fine.
Legal Help with Bond and Bail Issues
This information about bond conditions and violations can be overwhelming, so retaining skilled legal counsel is critical for protecting your rights. Texas City criminal defense lawyers are experienced in addressing these scenarios. You can count on help in a number of areas:
- Representation at your arraignment is crucial for ensuring the court orders pretrial release and fair bond conditions.
- Dealing with a bail bond company involves an extremely important agreement that puts you on the hook financially. An attorney will help you understand the arrangement and what happens in the event of a breach.
- If you are accused of violating bond conditions, you still get your day in court to present your position.
- From your initial court appearance, until the charges are resolved, you have the opportunity to contest or modify the terms of bail. Your lawyer knows strategies that will result in fair conditions that you can meet.
- When a violation of the conditions for bond could result in criminal charges, an attorney can assist with defenses.
Consult with a Texas City Criminal Defense Lawyer for More On Bond Conditions
Now that you know what happens if you are accused of violating your bond conditions in Texas, you can see that retaining skilled legal representation is a priority. Defenses are available, but you are at a disadvantage when going up against an experienced prosecutor alone.
For more information on how our team can help, please contact criminal defense attorney Mark Diaz. You can call 409-515-6170 to set up a no-cost consultation with a Texas criminal defense lawyer. Our firm represents individuals in greater Houston and throughout Galveston County, so we are prepared to fight for your rights.