To understand forfeiture you must understand what a bail bond is. To put it simply, a bail bond is a contract (in regards to money or value of property) between a state licensed bail agent and the signer or cosigner. The purpose of bail is to provide the court a guarantee you uphold the terms of agreement and will appear in court on the trial date.
Bond forfeiture occurs when the defendant does not show up in court, and violates the terms of agreement. The bail bondsman or cosigner who put up the bond must pay the defendant’s outstanding bail amount. A forfeited bond becomes the property of the jurisdiction overseeing the case, and it cannot be refunded. The defendant will be expected to repay the bondsman’s entire cost.
The bail bond company may sell any collateral the defendant has put up to secure a bond in order to obtain cash to pay the bond once bond forfeiture has been ordered. If the defendant’s family or friends have given collateral they will also likely lose those items. Bond forfeiture is not the only consequence defendant faces for missing a court date. Typically, once found, a fleeing defendant will immediately be placed in jail. The defendant may also be charged with the crime of jumping bail, if convicted, the defendant could ultimately be sentenced to additional jail time and ordered to pay hefty fines.
Bond forfeiture is not an automatic action. If the defendant misses their court date, the judge assigned to the case will first have to determine if the defendant’s reason for absence is a good one or not. If the judge determines the reason is a valid one, adjustments can be made. If the judge does not think the defendant’s reason for absence is valid, a warrant for arrest will be issued for the defendant. If the defendant still chooses not to comply with the court the judge will issue a Notice of Forfeiture.
This is a general article for example purposes. As always, please contact us at 979-821-2663 regarding your specific case.