Getting arrested and locked in jail can be a traumatic experience. Sitting behind bars awaiting your trial is one option, but it can take weeks to bring a case to trial.
To be freed from jail pending your hearing, you can be released on what is called a bail bond. Here is a quick overview of how that process works, plus a couple sound reasons why you should never consider skipping out on a bond.
If you have been charged with a criminal offense, especially something serious like a felony, the judge will order a bond posted to insure your appearance at future proceedings. More serious charges will carry a higher bond amount. To be released from jail you will need to go through a bail bond agency, such as Bail Bonds By Tom Short, where you will customarily pay the bondsman 10 percent of the total bond amount set by the court.
As part of your agreement, you must have someone sign for your release, plus make a contract to provide property as collateral against the remaining bond balance. Most bondsmen require real property such as land or real estate. But, if the bond is not extremely high, or the charges are of a less serious nature, often vehicles and other types of fixed assets can be used.
Forfeiture of the Bond
So what happens if you forget about your court date, miss it for any number of reasons, or fear prosecution and decide to skip town? In short, you will forfeit your bond and become a fugitive from justice.
If you've posted a bond, your court appearance has been guaranteed by a friend or family member, someone closely associated with you. As mentioned, this person has been required to put up some type of physical property, most likely real estate, to secure your bail.
When you violate the provisions of your bond agreement, this collateral is going to be taken by the bonding company and your bond will be forfeited. The bondsman must pay the court the remaining amount that the court set as your bond. They will recoup their losses by taking rightful ownership of the property that was used to guarantee your court appearance.
If you miss your court date, or think it wise to try and avoid prosecution by not showing up for court, you can be extradited. Extradition can be a painfully embarrassing experience. Bonding agencies employ bounty hunters who can be ruthless and insensitive when returning you to appear in court.
You may be arrested in public and then you will be transported back to the original venue of your charges. If you are pulled over by police, you could be labeled a fugitive from justice, which will get you arrested and held without bond pending extradition.
Once you violate a bond for a failure to appear, you will not only add an additional charge onto your record, but more than likely be unable to secure a bond in any amount. You will sit in jail until your trial date.
Skip bail and the consequences can be worse than anything you might expect from facing your charges. You will be tagged as a flight risk; potentially forfeit any property used as collateral to secure your release from jail, plus extradited back to jail when you are found.
Keep diligent records of your court dates. Show up on time, every time and never in your wildest dreams, consider skipping out on a bail bond.