What Is Bond Forfeiture in Regards to Bail Bonds?

A bail bond is a service that helps to keep people out of jail when the authorities have accused them of a misdemeanor, felony, non-violent crime, or something different. The judge may require the accused to pay bail to get released until the court date because of the nature of the crime or his or her past experience with a bail bond. Typically, a person who receives a bail bond should show up for court, and then the bail bond company will receive its monies back. In some rare circumstances, a bond forfeiture occurs and complicates matters for all parties.

 Bond Forfeiture

Forfeiture of one’s bail bond occurs when that person defaults on the agreement he or she initially made with the bail bond company. When the bond company first agreed to bail the person out of jail, they may have required the person to pay a down payment and offer a security amount. The individual may have also had to relinquish the title to a car or deed to a home as an extra layer of security for the bond company. The bond company most likely requested those extra offerings as a surety to pay.

A defendant agrees to show up for court on the specified date when that person signs the documents to receive bail bond help. When that doesn’t happen, the bond forfeiture law may come into play. The bond forfeiture law holds the bail bond company responsible for the outstanding bail amount that the defendant forfeits when he or she experiences a missed court appearance.

How Does Someone Forfeit Bail?

An individual usually forfeits bail with a missed court appearance. A missed appearance must have a viable excuse for the person to receive the benefit of the doubt. The court may not issue a bond forfeiture warrant if the missed appearance is because of an emergency such as an accident, a death, or an unforeseen hospital visit. Otherwise, the court may use stringent methods to remedy the missed appearance.

What Happens When Someone Forfeits Bail?

The court will most likely issue a bond forfeiture warrant, which means that the person may get into additional trouble for skipping bail. The court will also ask the bail bond company to pay for the surety bond forfeiture by paying the outstanding bail amount that was used as a surety to pay. All of that money will become the property of the court that issued the forfeiture. Furthermore, the court may enter a guilty plea against the defendant for the non-violent crime, misdemeanor, or felony of which the authorities have accused him or her. That person may lose the right to defend himself or herself in court at a later date. As a result of that loss, the person may end up with a large jail sentence and have to spend more time there than usual.

Bail forfeiture

Another thing that can happen as a result of bail forfeiture is that the bail bond company can seize the defendant’s collateral and then sell it so that they can retrieve the money they lost because of the failed appearance. The defendant signed such an agreement when he or she first requested bail, and the bondsman explained the risks at that time. Bail forfeiture automatically gives the bail bond company the right to use those items to recover its money.

To avoid surety bond forfeiture, a person should always show up for court no matter what the circumstances are. A smooth bail transaction will end with the defendant showing up in court and then the court making its ruling. The court returns the bail money within 30 days of a court session ending in most cases. The bail bond company then releases the collateral and other security amount offerings back to the person who put them up.