No one ever wants to invite legal problems into their lives. Sometimes, however, life doesn’t go according to plan, and you might find yourself before the court with a lawyer and relatives behind you fighting for your freedom.
Eventually, the long discussion between the judge and the lawyer about something called “flight risk” ends, and the gavel is pounded and you’re released on bail with the help of relatives or a bail bond agent in Raleigh NC. The next thing you know, you skipped the hearing – thinking that it’s really no big deal.
The truth is, it is.
So what happens if you skip bail? The short answer is: nothing good.
The truth is, skipping bail may change how the justice system will treat you.
Judges are responsible for being ethically just and objective, but in sentencing, they consider the regret a defendant expresses – or lack thereof. Skipping bail is one of the red flags that the defendant is not remorseful at all, which may lead to harsher punishments and raw deals.
Separate Charge, Additional Legal Consequences
In addition to your pending charge, you may face an additional felony or misdemeanor charge for contempt of court. The details of this charge depend on your situation and the jurisdiction, but in most cases, deliberately jumping bail may lead to jail time and fines. This may be added to any other punishments you receive.
This separate charge may also become a permanent mark on your legal record.
Bench Warrant for Your Arrest
If you don’t show up at the criminal hearing, a judge may issue a bench warrant for your immediate arrest. A bench warrant is a judge’s order to arrest the defendant and bring you to court. You become a fugitive.
It pays to know that warrants do not expire, and are effective in all 50 states. This means wherever you end up in for however long, the law will still catch up with you. In addition, screening for warrants happens often during traffic stops, outgoing and incoming international flights, and at ports of entry and exit for ships.
If you skip bail, you may be responsible for the full price of bail. And if a family member or a good friend has put up a collateral like their car or house, they could lose that collateral. You may also be fined major fees by the court for jumping bail.
One Way Out: A Legitimate Excuse
If you have a legitimate excuse for not showing up on the court date, contact your attorney and your bail bond agent immediately, as you may actually get out of the mess.
“I forgot the hearing date,” “I had to bring my daughter to school,” or “I got the date mixed up” – excuses like these will not fly with the court. In some states, even being incarcerated in another jurisdiction is not an excuse for skipping bail. On the other hand, legitimate excuses include no notification of the hearing, unforeseeable emergencies (e.g., you were rushed to the hospital, etc.), and your lawyer withdraws without notice.
The bottom line here is that it’s not worth jumping bail. Not only does it perpetuate the crime, but also add more to your financial costs and lead to life-long consequences. You will pay one way or another, so think twice before challenging the law.