Arrest / Release
The person making an arrest must, “without unnecessary delay,” take the accused before a hearing officer, known also as a magistrate. In Harris County, this detention hearing usually happens within 24 hours. At the detention hearing, the magistrate then decides whether or not probable cause exists for the arrest. The magistrate may review live witness testimony, affidavits, the arresting officer’s testimony, the written offense report, field notes and other reports prepared by the arresting officer. In cases involving stalking or family violence, the magistrate may also enter an order for emergency protection.
Detention HearingIf the magistrate finds no probable cause, the accused is released. If the magistrate finds probable cause to detain the accused, the magistrate informs the accused of the following rights:
- to retain counsel;
- to remain silent and that any statement the accused makes can and probably will be used against the accused at trial;
- to have an attorney present during any interview with peace officers or prosecutors;
- to terminate police interrogation at any time; and
- to request the appointment of counsel if the accused is indigent;
Bond ConsiderationsThe initial bond amount is set based on several factors that the magistrate considers, including:
- the reasonable amount that will assure the accused returns to court. In Harris County, judges use the following chart listing standard bond amounts: Bail Bond Schedule
- the nature of the alleged offense and the circumstances, including both aggravating and mitigating factors;
- the defendant’s ability to make bail;
- the future safety of the alleged victim and the community; and
- the accused’s employment history, residency, family affiliations, prior criminal record, previous court appearances, and any other outstanding bonds.