What happens if I fail to show up in court after bailing out of jail?

Bail jumpers face the loss of the bail amount, plus a warrant for their arrest.

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Failing to make your court appearances, even before a trial has begun, is a huge mistake. Defendants who fail to appear at a scheduled court appearance may suffer both financial and criminal penalties. That is, a violator will forfeit the amount of bail and, in most states, may also be charged with a separate crime. (See Bail Jumping—or Failing to Appear After Bailing Out.) Plus, if the person is ever arrested and detained again in the future—once the current case is resolved—the bail in that future case may be impossibly high, because the judge will consider the person a bail risk.

Example: Della is free on $1,000 bail after posting the full cash amount with the court. The judge orders Della to attend a pretrial settlement conference. However, Della fails to attend and does not explain her absence to her lawyer. As a result, Della will forfeit the entire $1,000 to the court. Della may also find herself charged with the crime of bail jumping, in addition to the crime she was charged with in the first place. A warrant will go out for her arrest, and when she’s picked up neither the police nor a judge or magistrate are likely to offer her a second chance to post bail.

What if defendants such as Della fail to make a required court appearance after purchasing a bail bond for $100? Because the bail bond seller probably required her to post collateral, the bond seller may sell her car or fancy watch or whatever property she pledged as security for the bond. In addition, if the collateral is insufficient, the bond seller can hire a bounty hunter to find Della, arrest her, and bring her back to the court’s jurisdiction so that the bond seller no longer has to pay the full amount of the bail to the court (or gets the money back, if it has already been paid). If she skips bail, Della will have two groups after her—the police and the bail bond seller/bounty hunter. As you can see, it would be better for Della to just make all her required court appearances once she bails out.

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