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 Hearing

      If 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:
The magistrate then determines if the accused is eligible for release on personal bond, cash bond, or surety bond. If so, the magistrate sets the initial amount of bail bond.

Bond Considerations

     The initial bond amount is set based on several factors that the magistrate considers, including: The bond amount is always subject to change on motion of the court, the hearing officer, or any party. At some time before appearing in court or being released on bond, the accused may meet with a worker from the court's Pre-trial Services department (PTS). PTS investigates and compiles information on those charged by Harris County with a felony or class A or B misdemeanor offense. PTS then prepares a report to assist the court with detention decisions. PTS also monitors and enforces compliance with bond conditions, which may include random drug testing.