Jail Release FAQs: Getting Out of Jail in Austin (Travis County)
If a friend or loved one has been arrested, you need a jail release. Many people do not know the first thing about the process. This post answers some most common questions I get when trying to get a loved one out of custody. Using best practices can help you secure a jail release hours, days, or even weeks earlier in some cases. If time is of the essence, you can reach an attorney by calling 512-677-5003. Calls are answered 24/7.
Where is my friend or loved one being held?After being arrested, a person is taken to the jail in the county where the arrest happened. In Travis County, that is at 500 west 10th Street After a day or two, they will often be transferred to the Travis County Correctional Complex in Del Valle. You can get more information about the facilities here.
To be absolutely certain where your person is, you can enter his or her info here. Pay attention to the location – it will usually say either Austin Jail or TCCC and you will know where he/she is.
How long will they spend in jail?
For misdemeanors like DWI, a person is often released the next day. For more felonies or more serious misdemeanors (like those involving violence), it can be days or weeks.
Here is where an attorney can make a big difference. In the case of minor misdemeanors, an attorney can speed the process by waiving magistration. This can save hours of time in jail. For more serious offenses, an attorney can bring mitigating information that can encourage a judge to sign a PR bond (more on that next). For the most serious felonies, a person may remain in custody until trial or a plea deal is reached, which can be months or even years.
How much does bond costBond can range from no charge for a Personal Recognizance (PR) Bond up to 100,000 or more. A judge can even determine that because of flight risk or danger to the community, no bond should be set and the person must wait in jail.
A PR bond means that a person is not required to pay money up front, but would only owe if they miss court later. A Judge may decide – with input from Pretrial Services – to grant the PR bond without an attorney. However, in many cases, the initial answer is no, and it will take an attorney approaching the judge before he grants it.
An attorney can point out mitigating facts or bring in outside information that was not available to the judge at first. These details can often be the crucial difference between getting a PR Bond.
A PR Bond was denied. Now what?
If a PR bond is denied but the judge sets bond, you have several options. You can pay the full bond with a “cash bond”. Usually bond is set at $5,000 for misdemeanors, but can be much higher. Also, bonds for multiple charges “stack”, so 3 charges at $5,000 would be a total bond amount of $15,000. When you post a cash bond, you will get the full amount back (minus a service fee) after the case is concluded.
Of course, many people don’t have a spare $5,000 lying around, so another option is to go through a bondsman. In this scenario, you would pay a bondsman a percentage (usually about 10%) of the bond and they post it for you. In this case, you would not receive that amount back at the end of the case. For larger bonds, most bondmen require a cosigner. If you don’t have the fee for a bondsman, some are willing to negotiate, so it can be a good idea to call multiple bondsmen before deciding.
How can I get their stuff?
Often the person arrested has important items that they need such as their phone and wallet. These are taken and stored when they are arrested. They can release these items to an attorney or family member with a release form. The jail releases all the items together. You can’t retrieve one item and leave the rest in storage.
Who is calling me?
Be sure to answer a call from 512-854-XXXX. This is probably Pretrial Services calling you as a reference. If you miss the call, you can get their information here.
They will ask questions about the person in custody such as will they make it to court, are they reliable, do they have a place to stay. Answer honestly, but as favorable as possible to help get your loved one released. Many people wonder whether they should speak with Pretrial Services, or what they should say. Typically, it only helps, but there are situations where it can be tricky. It can often be good to speak with an attorney before making a statement to Pretrial Services. Remember: anything you say to them will be directly reported to the judge.
Will I get a Court Appointed lawyer?
Eventually, yes you will get a court-appointed lawyer. A hired attorney will be able to get you released more quickly in many circumstances. As I discuss in my previous blog post, you do NOT get an attorney at that first appearance.