What Happens with a Failure to Appear

If the defendant is out on bail and fails to appear for a stipulated court appearance, it may not prove to be as much of a headache for them as it can become for the person who posted their bail. According to the law, anybody can post bail for the defendant – relatives, friends or even total strangers. Cash bail may be paid directly to the jail or court, but there is another option – to use the services of a licensed bail bondsman. With a bail agent, you are only required to come up with 10% of the bail face amount in cash.  Usually the balance is provided by way of collateral – in the form of titles, deeds, etc. or additional cash or jewelry.

Why a Defendant Might Fail to Appear 

The reasons behind a failure to appear in court on the scheduled date and time can be broadly classified into two factors – either the defendant has fled, or there has been some genuine reason behind the absence. If the reason is valid, such as the defendant having been involved in an accident or a death in the immediate family, then the court may consider the situation and decide to excuse the defendant. There is a grace period allowed by the court wherein all explanations need to be submitted with relevant proofs and documents.

However, in the event that the person on bail has absconded with no intention of facing the court or law officials, then the matter becomes serious not only for the defendant but also for the person who has posted the bail. As soon as the defendant misses his or her date with the court, the judge issues a notice to the person who bailed out the defendant, as well as the bail agency. The person signing the bail bond contract is known as the indemnitor and on the occasion of the defendant’s failure to appear in court, the bail bond is said to be in default. A bench warrant is then issued for the defendant’s arrest.

What Happens to the Money?

When the bail bond is declared to be in default by the court, the indemnitor stands the risk of losing their bail money. In addition, the risk extends to any collateral that was used to secure the bond; for example, their house, car or other valuable property. If the defendant manages to show up in court, or is arrested and brought into court within the statutory period of time, then the default status is removed.

It is the responsibility of the indemnitor to provide financial or other requested assistance to the bail bondsman, in order to get the defendant back into court. If the defendant has skipped bail and his or her whereabouts cannot be determined, the bail agency will enlist the services of fugitive recovery personnel in order to protect their surety obligation. If the defendant is still missing after the stipulated time allowed by the court, the bail can be forfeited and any collateral used to secure the bond must be sold or used to acquire the cash to make up the difference. The defendant, if caught as a fugitive, may also face criminal charges and chances are now that the original case against the defendant may also lean against him or her.

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