Whereabouts Unknown: What Happens When Someone Skips Bail

Posted on: 15 October 2018

If you're thinking about taking on a bail bond, then chances are someone you know needs it. For friends, family, and loved ones who can't afford the full amount of their bail upfront, a bail bond gives them the ability to post bail and remain free until their trial date. The catch is that you're ultimately responsible for them keeping their word.

So what happens when said person decides to skip bail? If someone you've bailed out doesn't show up for their court date, it could trigger a number of actions on part of the bail bond agency, along with a few unpleasant consequences for you and anyone else who co-signed a bail bond contract. The following explains what happens when a bail skip occurs.

The Bond Goes Into Default

When someone who has bonded out of jail fails to show up for their court date, the court will send notice of their failure to appear to the bail bond agency in question. From this moment forward, the bail bond is considered to be in default.

Once a bail bond goes into default, you're at risk of losing any collateral you've put up to secure the bond. However, if a no-show is caused by an illness or a misunderstanding concerning the court date, the bonded individual may be able to contact the court for a reprieve at the court's discretion.

Bounty Hunters Spring into Action

After the court notifies the bail bond agency of a failure to appear, the agency has a grace period to locate and bring back the person in question before a bench warrant for their arrest is issued. This grace period can range anywhere from 30 days to six months, depending on your state's statutes.

Although your bail bondsman will encourage you to locate and return the bail skipper, the agency will take its own steps to track down and bring the offender back to court. Those steps involve hiring a bounty hunter whose sole task is to locate and return that person.

Also known as fugitive recovery agents or bail enforcement agents, bounty hunters are not affiliated with any government or law enforcement agency. However, they do have the power to seek out and arrest individuals who violate the terms of their bail bond contract.

Bounty hunters are given broad latitude by virtue of the bail bond agency's contract, which means they can take actions to apprehend bail skippers that would otherwise be considered off-limits. These actions include entering the bail skipper's home or other private property without a warrant. However, bounty hunters can't encroach on other people's property unless given permission by the property owner.

You Risk Losing Your Collateral

Keep in mind that a bail bond is a legally binding contract. When you sign a bail bond contract, you're also acknowledging your responsibility for the person being bonded out. If that person decides to go on the run, you'll ultimately be responsible for bringing that person back to court or jail, along with any expenses incurred by the bail bond agent to apprehend the offender.

But it's not just the costs of hiring a bounty hunter that you'll be responsible for. If the bail skipper isn't apprehended within the time limit given by the courts, the bail bond agency loses the entire bail bond amount. In turn, the bail bond agency will take a couple of actions to recoup their losses:

  1. The bail bond agency will seize any collateral put toward the bail bond. That means you'll lose any property or valuables put towards the bail bond as collateral. Said collateral may be sold at auction to recoup the agency's expenses.
  2. The bail bond agency may also sue you to recoup their losses, especially if the collateral forfeited as a result of the bail skip fails to cover those losses.

These consequences can prove financially painful, which is why it's important to understand your responsibilities before entering into a bail bond contract. For more information, get in touch with a company that offers bail bondsman services.