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Attending Your Bail Hearing: Steps for Being Properly Prepared

A bail hearing is the defendant’s first chance to make a good impression and set the tone for the rest of their case. For many first-time arrestees, it can be intimidating and seemingly expensive. In this article, we seek to help clarify some of the facts surrounding it and adequately prepare you for the road ahead. 

What Happens at the Bail Hearing– Bail Hearing Procedures

The bail hearing occurs shortly after an arrest. The Dallas County court system uses a predetermined schedule to set the bail amount so the defendant doesn’t necessarily have to wait in jail before finding out how much money it will take to get out of jail. 

The severity of the charge will factor in at this stage. However, the judge’s determination isn’t based on guilt, innocence, or the evidence. Therefore, it’s likely the defendant will be offered bail unless the crime is particularly severe or a flight risk. Even then, the defendant might be bail-eligible, but the amount could be higher or have additional restrictions.

Bail Calculation and Payments

Understanding how bail is set will go a long way in helping the defendant figure out whether he or she can pay. The court uses a schedule that adjusts depending on a specific algorithm.

Bail Algorithm

DFW judges base their bail determination on four key factors: 

  • Nature of the crime– misdemeanor, felony, degree of severity
  • Flight risk– about 25 percent of felony defendants (BJS) fail to appear for their court dates
  • Criminal background– first offense or one of many?
  • Age of the defendant– youth can sometimes get more leniency

The final bail amount can range from low-hundreds to thousands of dollars. You may wish to consult with a criminal defense attorney before your bail hearing.

Surety vs Cash Bonds

A bail bondsman may post a surety bond on the defendant’s behalf. This is the low-cost way of posting bail upfront, provided you plan to show up for your court date. The bondsman may ask for a percentage of the whole bail amount, typically 10%, or some form of property collateral in exchange for posting bond. 

The other option is more expensive and can be an unattainable solution for many: cash bonds. It’s possible to come up with the full bail amount for low-level misdemeanors, but more severe crimes may warrant hefty bail amounts that are entirely unaffordable. The benefit of paying your own bail is that if you keep your court date, you get 100% of your money back. If you don’t, however, you forfeit the entire amount to the court. 

Seek a DFW Attorney

Attorneys are great resources to have before your Dallas County bail hearing. They often successfully argue for lower bail amounts than you would otherwise be able to get on your own. 

Many attorneys also have good relationships with area bail bondsmen and can make the necessary contacts quickly. This ensures that you don’t spend any more time in jail than you have to. 

Practice Mental Preparation Techniques

The bail hearing is a formal court proceeding. Judges look at the demeanor and attitude of the defendant as they make their decisions. So, take some time before your hearing to clear your head and treat it like you were preparing for a job interview, church, or another formal setting. Take some deep breaths, stay calm under pressure, be positive and confident without being cocky, and try your best to release anxiety over things you can’t control. 

Show Respect to the Judge

Address the judge as “Your Honor.” “Mam” or “sir” won’t cut it in the courtroom. Be respectful through eye contact, word choice, tone of voice, and body language. If possible, let your defense attorney do the talking. 

Accept the Decision

Be ready and willing to accept whatever decision the judge makes. Now is not the time to fly off the handle or throw temper tantrums. That can only harm your standing later. If you truly believe the judge set an unjust bail amount, talk to your attorney to discuss the necessary steps to request a bail reduction. 

Mark Your Calendar

Next, you’ll find out your hearing date. This is where you’ll enter a plea of “Guilty” or “Not Guilty.” You could receive your sentence right there or the court will assign you a trial date. 

Even if you’re scared the court will convict you, don’t run. Missing your court date can result in an additional warrant for your arrest, make you look more guilty, and make the person who bailed you out civilly liable for paying 100% of the bond amount to the bondsmen. This can also lead to more charges, higher bail (or no eligibility), and a tougher time fighting your charges.

Court Date Preparation

Get ready for your hearing date by planning ahead. Schedule any needed time off in advance with your employer if you have one.

Dress professionally. Be well-groomed. Remember all those manners that you used during the bail hearing, and be ready to follow your attorney’s lead. 

Honor What Comes Next– Conviction or Freedom

Realize that the judge’s ruling is final. You can always file an appeal later if need be. You do yourself no favors getting combative or argumentative while in the courtroom. 

If you receive community service, fulfill those requirements within the timeframe set forth. If jail time, do your best to be a model inmate. Good behavior can mitigate longer sentences. 

A-EZ Out: Bail Hearing Process and Fast DFW Bail Bonds

How you handle yourself during the bail hearing isn’t an avoid-jail card. However, it does go a long way in setting the tone for the rest of your case. It also helps your attorney argue for lower bail and more leniency. If you need a bail bondsman with plenty of experience helping others through these issues, then reach out to A-EZ Out Bail Bonds today! We service Dallas, Tarrant, Collin, and Denton counties, ensuring speedy releases from jail across the metroplex. 

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