Incarceration of some kind is unfortunately common in the U.S. at just under 1 in 100 people serving time in federal, state, or local facilities. While many of these people are serving out sentences, a lot of them are in the pre-trial phase. That means they’ve been arrested and charged, but haven’t gone to trial yet.
During the pre-trial phase, you can often secure your temporary release with a bail bond. What you may not know about is what will cause forfeiting bail or the consequences. If you or a loved one is out on bail and you want to know, keep reading for an overview.
What Is Bail?
Prior to the actual trial date, you go before a judge for a bail hearing. The judge weighs a number of relevant factors about you, such as:
- Community Ties
- Type of crime
- Odds of flight
- Danger posed to the community
Someone charged with a non-violent crime and family in the area is likely less of a flight risk and danger to the community. Someone with no family in the area and charged with a violent crime poses a higher risk to the community and is more of a flight risk.
After considering all of these factors, the judge typically sets a bail amount. That is how much the judge believes will secure your appearance for future court dates.
Other Potential Rulings
While a fixed bail amount is a very common ruling, the hearing can go other ways. The judge may release on own recognizance or set a personal bond. In these cases, you leave without putting up any money upfront.
The judge may also deny bail entirely.
Bonds for Bail
For those who can afford it, you can pay a cash only bond. That means you pay the full amount of the bail out of your personal funds.
In many cases, the person or their family cannot afford the full amount of bail. In these cases, they will typically employ the services of a bail bondsman service.
These services essentially promise to pay the court the entire amount of the bail to secure your release. They secure a percentage of the bail amount from you or your family, such as 15 percent. For higher bonds, many services will work out a payment plan to make it easier for you or your family.
This kind of bond is a surety bond. Once you secure the bond from the bail bondsman, you get released until your trial begins or you forfeit bail.
While paying your bail or securing a bond can get you out of jail in the run-up to your trial, it’s not a guarantee. In most cases, there are a number of limitations and expectations put on you. A few common restrictions and expectations include:
- Not committing another crime
- Appearing for all court dates
- Not using drugs or alcohol
- Not contacting victims of the crime
- Not contacting witnesses
Violating any of these restrictions or expectations can lead to forfeited bail or getting your bond revoked. One of the more common violations is a failure to appear for court dates.
What consequences can you expect after forfeiting bail? We’ll cover that in the following sections.
When you forfeit bail, it almost always means you take a financial hit. The court will keep any bail money you paid them.
If you worked through a bail bondsman company, the company will typically keep whatever money you paid out or collect on any collateral you put up.
If your family puts up the money or collateral, it means a big financial hit for them. You’ll also face a fee from the service as well, on top of the full amount owed for the bond.
Missing court dates is no joke. There is typically a hearing where a judge formally revokes your bail. After that, they’ll issue an arrest warrant.
This doesn’t mean that the entire police force will deploy to look for you, but the police are on the lookout for you. Law enforcement may visit your family or friends to try to track you down. They’ll likely also keep an eye out for your vehicle if you own one.
If they find you or stop you in your vehicle, you will get arrested.
Of course, there are relatively innocent reasons that you might miss a court date. Do not wait until the cops find you.
Contact your lawyer and your bail bondsman service as soon as possible. If there was a good reason you missed the court date, they can often resolve the issue without an arrest.
Return to Jail
If found and arrested, you can expect a return to jail. While the courts might extend some latitude for a first-time offense, you’ll typically remain in jail until your court date arrives.
The easiest way you can avoid this outcome is by toeing the line, following the restrictions, and showing up for court dates.
If you miss a court date, you’ll get the added bonus of more charges against you. The additional charge is typically a failure to appear charge.
These charges typically coincide with the level of your other charges. For example, if you face misdemeanor charges, you can expect misdemeanor failure to appear charges. If you face felony charges, you’ll get felony failure to appear charges.
These charges can tack six months or more onto your sentence.
Forfeiting Bail and You
You should avoid forfeiting bail if at all possible. It inevitably makes your situation worse.
It gives the court a negative impression of you, which works against you. On top of that, it’s expensive. It can cost you or your family a lot of money.
You also face the prospect of another arrest and additional charges. Even if you get found not guilty for the original crime, you still end up in jail for failure to appear charges.
Raleigh Bail Bonds offers bail bond services in Wake County, NC. If you need bail bond services, contact Raleigh Bail Bonds today.