While you might only be familiar with the term “skips bail” from movies and television, there’s a reason it exists: it happens. Some people are not going to show up for court, and the reasons are numerous. Skipping bail, AKA jumping bail, is a problem that bail bond agents have to deal with more often than we’d like…because we’d like to deal with it exactly 0-percent of the time!
When you helped the person secure bail money and get them out of jail, you almost certainly never thought they’d do anything to betray your trust and not show up on their court date. But once it happens, you’ll most likely go through a wide range of emotions. Anger, fear, frustration, worry, anxiety, and even more anger are all in your future.
Calm down and take a breath. Yes, there is trouble, but there are also solutions. Here’s what you should do if someone you posted bail for doesn’t show up for their court date.
Do Not Hide Them
We’ve talked quite a bit about movies here in our bail bond blogs and how they often portray the bail bond process in a negative light. Considering how inaccurately Hollywood portrays the legal system, it should be no surprise that they often give bad advice about what to do when someone skips bail and shows up looking for help. “I’ve been wrongly accused, there’s a hitman after me, the guy with the one arm did it!” In most cases, characters will end up helping the person who is running, either giving them money, the keys to the car, or getting in the car and going along for the ride. Yay, another felony!
No matter how close you are to the person you posted bail for, you cannot give them aid that continues to helps them avoid the law. If you do, you are now an accessory to a crime and you could go to jail as well. Considering that nearly every accused person who runs ends up getting caught eventually, you’ll almost certainly get in big trouble too.
Address The Issue
Not every person who misses their court date is “on the run.” If the person lives with you — whether a son, daughter, husband, wife, or couch-sleeping sibling — it’s imperative that you address the issue of their court appearance as soon as you discover that they didn’t show up. If you return from work only to find that they haven’t left the house that day, you can’t just let the issue drop if they say “or, I forgot.” A warrant was issued for their arrest the moment they didn’t show up for court. You are now aiding a fugitive just by giving them a place to stay.
Contact The Right People
If you are in contact with the bail skipper, it’s time to start talking legal option immediately. Yes, they are in trouble, but each hour that goes past means that they could be in more. Have them contact their bail bond agent right away and let the bondsman know the circumstance of their missing court. If we haven’t mentioned it before, keeping the bail bond company informed and happy is a good thing! Contacting their lawyer (who did show up to the hearing, by the way) is also a top priority.
If a person doesn’t show up to their hearing, it’s not the end of the world. The entirety of bail money isn’t necessarily forfeited, but the judge should be informed right away as to why someone didn’t show up for court. Judges can be understanding and lenient, especially if the excuse is reasonable (car trouble, sickness).
We’re In This Together
Have you ever thought about the words bondsman or bail bond agent? The word bond is there because we have formed a legal bond with whoever paid the bail and the accused. When someone skips bail, we are responsible for them and do whatever we can to get them back to court. As the person who posted bail money for them, you should too. At the first sign of trouble, you should contact your bail bond agent in O’ahu.