While we have spoken plenty in the past about the rules and regulations surrounding bails including the situations that would call for one, we haven’t really taken the time to discuss what happens when you don’t hold up your end of the bargain.
This can be a bit of an uncomfortable topic to talk about, but we believe it’s important that our clients understand what happens when you fail to appear for your trial after being bailed out of jail. This is what’s called bail forfeiture, and it’s a serious offense when you don’t follow court orders.
The Bail Forfeiture Process
Once this happens, the judge will issue a bench warrant along with a determined forfeiture date that involves a forfeiture hearing. At this point and time, the defendant officially becomes a fugitive on the run, and it is up to the bail bondsman or whoever agreed to the terms of the bail bond, to find the defendant and return them to the court.
So long as they appear in court by the forfeiture date, then there is no bond forfeiture to speak of. On the other hand, if they do not appear, the entire bail amount will then be payable to the court.
Valid Reasons for Missing a Court Appearance
Of course, there are plenty of valid reasons why someone may miss their court date. Whether the defendant is out of town, they’re dealing with an emergency like a death in the family, or they never received the instructions regarding the appearance date, a defendant may have a legitimate reason for being truant. If this is the case, the court will more than likely end up canceling the forfeiture and decide on a new date instead.
How Things Go From Bad to Worse
However, if that same court ends up finding the defendant and they pose a flight risk, the defendant will be held in custody until their trial. It goes without saying that many cases involving bail forfeiture are due to nerves and anxieties being experienced by the defendant, but they may also be in contact with an attorney to assist them in the litigation process revolving around the amount in damages being requested by the bench warrant.
Along with the bail forfeiture, there are typically other charges and possibly even fines bundled with a failure to appear in court, the severity of which will depend on the original charges. For example, whether we’re talking about a misdemeanor or felony, whether the fugitive returns on their own accord or if they have been arrested.
As you can see from this article, bail forfeiture can have a huge impact on the outcome of a trial. Not only will this put the person associated with the bail process into financial risk, but the defendant can experience extra charges that result in additional jail time.
Take all of these aspects into strong consideration when you or the person acting on your behalf takes out a bail bond. So long as both sides hold up their end of the deal, then the entire process will be a smooth one!