Jumping Bail: Did I Just Make a Terrible Mistake?
Breach of bail or violation of a protective condition of bail can greatly add to the legal problems of a criminal defendant. Making bail allows a criminal defendant to be released from jail following an arrest. The bail process includes a written promise to appear in court at a specified date and time. Failure to do so can result in immediate arrest and the forfeiture of any money or collateral that was pledged to secure bail.
Breach of Bail
Failing to comply with the conditions of a bail undertaking is a serious offense. The court may issue a warrant to have the defendant arrested and confined. The defendant will remain in custody until a court appearance can be arranged. The defendant will be given an opportunity to explain why bail was breached. The court may then choose to reset or revoke bail. In the event that bail is revoked, the defendant will be remanded into custody.
A criminal defendant that is in breach of bail may voluntarily appear in court prior to being arrested. Depending on the circumstances surrounding the breach of bail and the reason for failing to appear in court, it may be possible to have bail reset. Any of the following circumstances may constitute a breach of bail:
- Failure to appear in court without a valid excuse
- Breach of a protective bail condition
- Providing false information in order to obtain bail
Breach of bail is a criminal offense that can result in additional criminal charges, incarceration or financial penalties. A conviction for breaching bail becomes part of a defendant’s permanent criminal record.
Appearing in court voluntarily is far more advantageous than waiting to be arrested. Even if a defendant has a valid reason for missing a court date, the court will insist on receiving documentation of the medical condition or other legitimate excuse. It’s always best to make prior arrangements with the court rather than simply failing to appear in court as scheduled.
Bailing Someone Out
Helping a friend or relative post bail entails certain unavoidable risks. Deciding not to bail a friend or relative out of jail may cause them to be moved to a less than hospitable or distant facility. The other consideration is what will happen to the money or collateral that is pledged to secure the friend or relative’s release.
If you post bail and the individual in question fails to appear in court as required, the court can declare the bail bond to be in default. You are at risk of losing the money or collateral you posted on the defendant’s behalf. Even though there is a grace period, the best solution to the problem is to locate the defendant and escort them to court before the bail bond is placed in default.