While most people take their legal obligations seriously, others are less careful about the dates they should keep in mind. Whether you miss your court session on purpose or by accident, being a no-show in the legal system often results in serious consequences.
Especially if you’re out on a bail bond, it’s even more important to show up to your court hearings. It may seem intimidating that you might be sentenced to jail, but no matter what, it’s never worth it to skip out or “jump bail”.
Here are some of the main reasons why you should honor your bail bond.
Skipping Only Makes Things Worse
Whatever crime you may be charged with, deliberately failing to appear will only make your situation worse. Depending on the state, jurisdiction, and circumstances, an FTA (Failure to Appear) results in an additional misdemeanor or felony. You will be punished more severely than before. An FTA also permanently goes on your record, meaning that bail bond agents might be less willing to bail you out later since they know you’ve skipped out in the past.
If you miss your court hearing on accident, make sure to contact your bail agent immediately in order to prevent further negative consequences.
You Become a Fugitive
If you choose not to appear, the court will usually issue a bench warrant, or a notification for your immediate arrest. In the eyes of the law, you are now a fugitive to be apprehended when found. There is no where you can run since warrants are valid in every state and never expire.
In addition, the police frequently check individuals for any warrants during traffic stops and places like airports and ship ports.
You Inconvenience Your Loved Ones
Once you become a fugitive, not only will the police have a warrant out for you, but your bail agent is also invested in bringing you back. After all, they became legally responsible for the full amount of your bond to the court in exchange for letting you out.
In order to find you, many bail agents will contact your family and friends to get an idea of where you went. Not only is this an awkward situation by itself, but if your loved ones are housing you or lie to cover up for you, they could face criminal charges for aiding a fugitive.
Furthermore, if your family or friends put up collateral to help bail you out, they could lose all that money, their car, or even their house because you did not honor your bond. Not only is this very ungrateful, but you hurt the people who care most about you.
Bounty Hunters Might Be Sent After You
After you skip bail, there is often a 90 day grace period wherein your bail agent must bring you back. If they cannot get a hold of you via family or friends, your bail agent may choose to send fugitive recovery agents. Also known as bounty hunters, these agents are often very effective and can do things police cannot, such as enter private property without a warrant in order to capture you.