In the vast majority of instances, criminal defendants released on bail return appear at their court date as scheduled. When this happens, bail is returned to the party who put it up: the defendant, a friend or family member, or in most cases a bail bondsman or bond company.
But what happens if the defendant deliberately misses their court date, or skips bail? In short, it isn’t pretty.
First, the court declares the amount paid for bail is in default, and any money or collateral put up for the defendant’s bail is held by the court. Laws vary, but most states allow a “grace period,” during which time the accused can be turned in to the court, and the bond pulled out of default status. In New Jersey, this grace period is 75 days.
For a bail bond company, this means they have a lot of money on the line. Bond companies put up the complete sum of bail set by the court in exchange for a cash percentage or collateral from the defendant, or someone acting on the defendant’s behalf. If the bail is forfeited to the court, that means they lose it all. For this reason bail bond companies often hire bounty hunters to track down bond skippers and return them to justice. And, of course, the police are usually on the case as well.
What if you put up bail for a friend or family member who doesn’t show up for their court date? When you put up bail to a bond company, you sign a contract and become known as the “indemnitor.” This means that you’ve assumed responsibility to the court, and the bail agent, that your friend or loved one will appear in court. If they willfully skip, you’re legally obligated to pay any additional fees, such as those to hire a bounty hunter, to the bond company. If the defendant can’t be recovered, you will be fully responsible to the bond company for the amount of the original bail.
If you’re wondering whether or not to bail someone out of jail, you should keep all this in mind. Ask yourself honestly, do you trust this person to appear in court? The consequences for them – and you – if they don’t are serious.
If you ever do need a bail bondsman, or help navigating the bonds process in New Jersey, contact Chance BailBonds at (877) 647-5731.