What happens when a friend is arrested? (North Texas Edition)

What happens when a friend is arrested? (North Texas Edition). So it’s late at night and you get that call that you never expect and never really want. And a family member or a friend has been arrested and is sitting in jail and is begging for you to bond them out. So what does that mean? What can you expect and what do you need to do? This video’s going to touch on just a few of the things that you need to know if you ever find yourself in this situation. So stick around.

Happy Friday, everybody. Hope you’re having a great week. I missed you guys last week. I hope you are doing okay and gearing up for this holiday season. I know that I am. So with the holidays around the corner, we do see an uptick in arrests, especially for DWIs and unfortunately assault family violence type cases, because holidays can be stressful. There’s a lot of drinking. There’s a lot of parties. And so first things first is obviously do everything in your power, not to find yourself in the situation I’m about to describe. But if you do, and if you know somebody that has been arrested and they’re calling you and asking you to bond them out, the first question that you’re going to ask is, well, what do I do? What do I expect? So keep in mind that it is very different across all jurisdictions on what the bond process and the release process looks like.

So when I’m explaining this, I’m going to try to keep it as vague and as general as possible and really specific to here in North Texas, in the Dallas area, for what most of the counties around here do. Now, there’s going to be some little variations on this here and there, depending on where you are. So obviously consult with somebody that practices in your area. If you really want to know specifically what the nuances of your county or town or state are. But here in Texas, if somebody gets arrested, generally speaking, they’re going to have to sit in jail until such time that they can see a magistrate judge, because that magistrate judge is going to do a couple things. That magistrate judge is going to most importantly, set a bond amount, set a dollar figure that has to be posted for that person to be released from jail.

The other thing that magistrate judge is going to do is going to set what are called bond conditions. These are rules that the person must follow while they’re out on bond. It could be anything from you can’t drink any alcohol while you’re on bond. You have to put an interlock device on your car, one of those blow starters. You have to stay away from certain individuals. You have to report to a pretrial officer and keep tabs on where you are. All of those things could be bond conditions that could be set. So normally speaking, in most cases, when somebody gets arrested, they have to wait to see that magistrate judge until they can get bonded out. They can’t get bonded out before then. Now there are some counties like Collin County in Texas is one, where for certain misdemeanors, they do allow attorneys to post what are called attorney writ bonds, which are a way that as an attorney, I can get a person out pretty immediately once they get arrested, if you just pay a cash bond in a certain pre designated amount.

Now, like I said, the writ bond process is a little bit different and it varies from county to county. For example, in some of the other counties around Collin County, they don’t allow attorney writ bonds, no matter what. Not only that, but attorney writ bonds are not available for every offense. They’re not available for any felonies and they’re not available for any misdemeanors that deal with family violence. So a writ bond process is a little bit unique. And so if you think that you might be eligible for one or whoever’s in jail might be eligible for one if it’s a DWI, for instance, the then call a criminal defense lawyer and we can talk you through whether or not that’s something we can do.

But nine times out of 10, when a person gets arrested, they’re going to have to wait and see a magistrate judge. That meeting, that setting before the judge could occur at any point in time. Sometimes the magistrate does the jail visits in the mornings. They do it first thing at like 8:00 AM before they go and do their normal docket. Sometimes they do it late in the day at four or five. Sometimes they do two a day. They do one in the morning, one in the afternoon. But it’s going to depend when you got arrested. Say you got arrested at like Saturday at two in the morning or something like that. You could be sitting and waiting until early Monday morning to see a magistrate judge. And a lot of times there’s not much that a lawyer can do to help that. If that county doesn’t allow writ bonds and requires you to be magistrated and that magistrate judge isn’t going to see anybody until 8:00 AM on Monday, then unfortunately the answer is you sit and you wait until you can see a judge.

So you might be sitting and waiting a while and that’s normal for the process. But eventually you’ll see a magistrate judge or your family member or friend will see a magistrate judge and a bond amount will get set. Your next call should be to a bondsman unless you have cash to post the bond in full yourself. Let’s say it’s pretty low amount. Then call a bondsman. Say I have a friend or a family member who is in jail. This is the bond that was set. I need to get them out. The bondsman is going to know exactly what to do. And they’re going to walk you through the next steps of the process. Generally, they charge you a fee. It’s usually 10% of the total bond amount, or somewhere around there, 10 to 12%, sometimes 15, but they’re going to charge you a fee. And then that bondsman will really take over from there.

Once they collect that money from you, they’ll go to the jail. They’ll post the bond. They will get the individual out, sign all the paperwork, and then that person will be ready for you to pick them up. So really as the family member or the friend, your job is to wait and see when that person’s going to get magistrated. Once they do, see what the bond amount has been set at. And if you can post that in cash up at the jail, great. If not, then call a bondsman. That’s really the three things that have to happen in order to get somebody out. And in terms of like, how do I find out if a person has seen a judge, the jail will generally have a phone number that you can call and ask. When is the next time that a magistrate judge is seeing everybody?

When is that person getting a bond set and where are they in the release situation or where they in the release process? And they should be able to tell you. Now, I’ll tell you, when you call a jail, you’re going to be on hold for a long time. It’s going to take a long time for you to get any information and everything in a jail happens slow. So even when you post a bond for an individual, be ready to wait another three, four, five hours before that person actually gets out. That’s normal. That’s how it works. They have to process the bond. They have to process the release and most jails that I’ve been around take their time in doing that. So just kind of be ready for that wait. So if there’s any questions about any of that as you’re going through the process, obviously find yourself a criminal defense lawyer in your area that you can call and be bouncing these questions off of as you’re going through this process.

For example, if you call my office and ask me, Hey, I’ve got so and so in jail, I’ll kind of guide you through the process as I can. I generally will give you my cell phone number so you can text me, Hey, is this right? Or are we still waiting? Have you heard anything? And you can kind of touch base with your lawyer that way. But like I said, it’s not a fast process. So be prepared to wait, be prepared to hang out. And eventually that person will get out. Eventually they’ll be released, eventually you can pick them up.

And then you move on to the next step in the process. Like I said, at the beginning, this is just a really vague general overview. The nuances from case to case change and from county to county change. So if you have any specific questions about this or anything else, call me, email me, find me online. Ask me a question. I’m happy to answer the specifics for you. Or find an attorney that’s in your area that’s more well versed in how the process works where you live and ask them, because they’d be able to help you too. Hope that helps. Hope that’s a little bit informative. Like I said, I did miss you next week or last week. I’m looking forward to seeing you next week. Hope everybody has a great weekend and we will see you next time.

Author Bio

James P. Whalen

James P. Whalen is the managing attorney and founder of Whalen Law Office, a Texas criminal defense firm offering personalized legal representation for various federal criminal charges. With a commitment to providing comfort and guidance during challenging times, Mr. Whalen serves as both an attorney and counselor to his clients, helping them navigate their cases while striving to restore normalcy to their lives.

In an inherently unbalanced criminal justice system, Mr. Whalen takes on cases with unwavering dedication. With decades of legal experience, he offers representation across various criminal charges, including white-collar crimes, violent crimes, drug charges, and more. Mr. Whalen’s numerous accolades, including Super Lawyer recognition and board certification in Criminal Appellate Law and Criminal Law, reflect his unwavering commitment to ethical and high-quality legal representation.

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