If someone you know ends up on the wrong side of the law, then you may end up helping them post bail through a bail bondsman or using your own funds or property as collateral. But what happens when that person becomes a no-show to their next scheduled court date? It's important to know what happens in the event of a bail skip, especially if your collateral is on the line.
What Happens to You
A common misconception is that if you help someone post bail and they subsequently skip, you could be held criminally liable. However, that's not true. In fact, your only risk when it comes to a bail skip is a financial one, which varies depending on how you helped that person make bail.
If you used a bail bondsman, then chances are you've already paid the bondsman a percentage of the total bail payment. This payment is usually set at 10 percent of the bail amount, although it can range from as little as 5 percent to as much as 50 percent depending on the total bail payment required. Keep in mind that this payment is non-refundable regardless of the case outcome or if the person who was bailed out skips.
If the defendant decides to skip his or her court appearances, then you could be on the hook for the entire amount of the bail, including any fees or costs incurred by the bail bondsman in locating and returning the defendant to court custody.
The same goes if you decide to forgo the help of a bail bondsman and put up your own collateral (such as your house or car) to secure a surety bond. Although your collateral becomes at risk of being forfeited, most jurisdictions offer a grace period before the bail bond goes into default. During this time, the defendant can turn him or herself in, or the person who put up the surety bond can have a fugitive recovery agent locate and bring them back into court custody.
What Happens to the Person Who Skips Bail
Meanwhile, there aren't any good outcomes for the person who decides to skip bail. In addition to the court issuing a bench warrant for their arrest, the bail bondsman can hire a fugitive recovery agent to track down and bring the defendant back to court. Considering how the bail bondsman won't have their bond returned unless they find and return the defendant, there's plenty of incentive for the bail bond agency to act.
Once back in court custody, the court may decide to hold the defendant without bail until their criminal trial begins.
Ways to Minimize Your Risks
Although you can't predict if someone you helped bail out will skip their court appearances, there are a few ways you can minimize your risks if it happens:
- Learn as much about the details of the case as you can, including the charges of the person you're bailing out. This way, you'll be able to make an informed decision about whether you should or shouldn't bail that person out.
- Consider your relationship with the person being bailed out. Extended family and casual acquaintances are more likely to skip bail than immediate family members. You should also consider if they're trustworthy enough to appear at their scheduled hearings as intended.
- Provide the bail bondsman with comprehensive information about the person being bailed out, including their family and friend contacts, current and past residences and current job status. This information can result in a speedier recovery in the event that person does skip.
- Make sure you have the means to pay the full amount of the bail bond in case the bond goes into default. If you can't afford to lose the collateral you'll have to put up for the bond, then you may want to reconsider posting the bond.
These tips can come in handy if you ever have to post bail on someone's behalf. For more information and advice, talk with a bail bonds company, such as All Star Bail Bonds, directly.