If you or a loved one has been arrested, usually the first concern is how long until he or she can be released. As with most things in the law, it can depend on a number of factors. First I will give a break-down of the best possible scenario, and then list some complications which can cause your time in custody to stretch out hours, day, or longer.
First, you must be transported to central booking. For the Austin PD, Central booking is located downtown at 500 West 10th Street. Next, you will be “processed”, which means police will fill out paperwork, take your mug shot and fingerprints.
From there, you will be “magistrated.” This means you will be brought in front of a magistrate judge, who will determine if there was probable cause for your arrest, and set a bond amount. This step can take a long time (sometimes 7 or 8 hours) because most magistrate judges will wait until there are a number of arrestees before magistrating a number of them at once. If you hire an attorney at this stage, you can “waive magistration” at this stage and skip this step.
At some point, Pretrial Services will ask to interview you to see if you are a good candidate for a Personal Recognizance Bond. They will ask questions about drug/alcohol use, employment, your living situation, and will ask for references. If Pretrial Services does recommend a PR Bond, they will present your file to the magistrate judge, who will make the final decision on granting the PR bond. If a PR bond is granted, there is still another 1-2 hours of processing before release. This time can be even longer if it is a busy day and there people in line ahead of you.
Without a lawyer, the absolute best case scenario is about 10-12 hours in custody. An attorney can sometimes shorten this time by a number of hours by waiving magistration. Many cases do not end up being the best case scenario, so the average time in custody without an attorney would probably be closer to 18-24 hours if you qualify for a PR bond.
Not every case is as simple as being approved for a bond and being released. Often times, Pretrial Services will recommend that a person be rejected for a PR bond simply because they could not reach the listed references. Other factors, like the seriousness of the charged crime, and likelihood to abscond come into play when deciding whether a person will receive a bond.
When there are complications, it becomes essential to hire an attorney to help you navigate the situation. Once Pretrial Services has determined a person is not suitable for bond, an attorney can re-approach the judge. Maybe the attorney can now reach the references. Maybe your case was not presented in the best possible light. Maybe there is an issue with probable cause that the judge did not notice before. Each case is different, so it is impossible to list all the complications with a PR bond that could be solved by a good Defense attorney.
Additionally, a judge may put pretrial conditions on the bond that can delay release. For assault cases, there is sometimes a 24 hour waiting period before release. This is to let tempers calm down or allow the alleged victim time to remove themselves if they share the same living space.
Sometimes the Judge can require an in-jail install of a GPS monitor. This means that you will need to coordinate with a third party vendor and make an initial payment for a monitor installation before you will be released. These installations usually happen in the afternoon, so if you miss the cutoff, you might end up staying over night. You will also need a good address to go home to. This can be in issue for domestic violence cases where there is a stay-away order.
PR Bond Rejected
In some cases, the judge simply will not grant a PR Bond due to factors like the severity of the charge, a person’s criminal history, or some factor that suggests a person will not return for their court settings. In these cases, you can post a surety bond through a bail bondsman, set a hearing to lower bond, or else you will be in custody until your case is disposed.
The bottom line is that if you are in custody, you will almost always be released sooner the earlier you hire an attorney. If you or a loved one has been arrested in Travis county, call 512-677-5003 for 24/7 jail release.