The first thing that comes to mind after landing in jail is how to get out fast, and the best way to do this is by posting bail.
There are “conditions of release” that you need to comply with if you post a bail bond. One of these is appearing in court when you’re ordered to do so. If you “jump bail” or don’t show up, the court keeps the bail and issues a warrant of arrest. You’ll also face an additional charge: bail jumping.
A Crime in Itself
Bail jumping is a crime in itself. Whether intentional or unintended, you may forfeit your bond and face additional charges if you don’t show up in court. If you used a bail bondsman, the person or company can sue you for another charge and hire a bounty hunter to arrest you. Remember that even if you’re innocent to the charge hurled against you, you need to appear before the judge whenever you’re summoned to do so.
Some states make bail jumping an offense only when you’re charged for misdemeanor or facing a felony, but others don’t look into the nature of the charge.
Intent and Proof
In most states, the prosecution must prove that you intentionally failed to show up in court before you’ll be charged for bail jumping. They must show that you received notice of the appearance date, whether through a letter or the wording of the bail bond contract.
Even if your excuse for bail jumping establishes a defense, the court will base its decision on the facts gathered and the jurisdiction. It’s usually a valid defense if your reason is due to circumstances beyond your control, such as an emergency or severe injury.
Bail jumping is a serious crime. Work with a legal counsel if you failed to appear in court to avoid facing additional charges.