Except for grievous crimes, most accused persons may be granted bail to stay out of prison during the trial period. However, if you are out on bail, it helps to appreciate that your freedom is subject to honoring your bail conditions. One of these is usually the commitment to honor future court dates.
Besides contacting your accuser, traveling out of state without informing the court or getting arrested again, one of the most costly mistakes you can ever make while on bail is missing your court date. Also known as jumping bail, missing your court date can have immensely negative consequences.
The exact action the court takes depends on the nature of the crime you have been charged with and your reason for jumping bail. For instance, the court may be lenient if you missed your court appearance due to a genuine medical emergency. However, if your reason is flimsy, the court will issue an arrest warrant against you, and this time, you may not get bail.
Jumping can also result in the forfeiture of your bail money. Additionally, this could hurt your record, making you ineligible for bail should you be arrested for other offenses in the future. And even if you are granted bail in the future, you can expect the bail amount to be incredibly high and with stricter terms. If you repeatedly jump bail, you could face an additional “contempt of court” charge.
What jumping bail means for others
Missing your court date can also raise the stake for whoever paid your bail money. If a friend or family member deposited their money or placed a personal asset as collateral for your bail, you need to return the favor and honor your court dates. If you do not, the court may seize whatever money your family or friend deposited for your bail.
Being charged with a crime can be a frightening experience. Knowing your legal options is crucial.