Do I Need to Pay Bond Amount on Personal Bond (Travis County, TX)?

Do I Need to Pay Bond Amount on Personal Bond (Travis County, TX)?

Austin defense attorney Charlie Roadman explains what the bond amount on a personal bond means.

Hi, I'm Charlie Rodman, Austin criminal defense attorney, and today we're going to talk about a question that we get quite frequently, which is do I need to pay the bond amount on the Travis County Personal Bond? Okay. Here's a personal bond and this is what Travis County gives you if after figuring out who you are and your history and where you live and stuff like that, this is what they give you if they feel like you're reliable, that you're going to show up for court. You don't need to pay a bail bondsman. This is Travis County giving you this bond for essentially free, although there's a little fee to pay here. We're going to talk about it in a second. In this bond right here, if you see in the middle of the page, the bond has been set at $3,500. Now you do not pay that amount. We're going to talk about that in a second.

What you do pay is this little fee down here, and in this case, it's $40, which is fairly typical. It can be 20, and it can be 3% of the bond if you have an ignition analog device requirement. This is the personal bond fee, and that is what you do pay. That's going to be attached to the bond in this little payment coupon that they have. It'll say how to pay that amount, but you don't pay the $3,500.

Now let's talk about the language here around that $3,500 bond amount, which is what the judge set your bond at after reading the probable cause affidavit and figuring out essentially what you're accused of doing. Now, if we take this little bit in the middle of the bond, I can sum it up for you by highlighting the main points.

The first section, I swear that I will appear, which means you'll go to court, or pay the $3,500. That's saying if you don't go, then you will have to pay that 3,500. Now, this crazy paragraph right here, which very well could have been written in the 19th century, the way paperwork in a court system works is they just keep using the same language over and over. This language is so nutty. It's like lawyer speak from 150 years ago/Shakespeare, what Shakespeare might... it's nuts. I'm going to read it just because it's fun to read, because it's so ridiculous. "Now if I shall well and truly make said appearance before the said court and there remain from day to day and term to term of said court until discharged by due course of law, then and there to answer said accusation against me and further shall well and truly make my personal appearance in any and all subsequent proceedings that may be had relative to said charge, and the course of the criminal action based on said charges. This obligation shall become void otherwise to remain in full force of effect." I don't think anyone's ever read that sentence or paragraph in 100 years. Otherwise, they would change it. Let me sum it up.

If I come to court when I am supposed to, this obligation to pay the 3,500 shall become void. Okay. That's all that says. If you go to court when you're supposed to, you don't have to pay that 3,500. If you take off, you will.

Here's the next question. What if I don't show up? The first thing that will happen is you'll get a warrant. That's really the most... That's the worst thing, because then a warrant will go out for you. The second thing that will happen is eventually, and I'm talking about in a year, the court will file a civil suit for payment of that $3,500 against you. It doesn't happen automatically. If you miss a court date, the next day they don't file a civil suit. It can take a while. That is basically what you have contracted with the court to do is to pay that money if you don't show up for your court dates.

Now, if you have an attorney and your attorney says you don't have to show up, that's totally fine. Do whatever your attorney says.

All right. I hope this helps. Good luck. I have another video about paying that personal bond fee, so you can watch that to see how that works. All right. Take care.