Understanding Bail Bond Forfeiture

A bail bond is an agreement between a court, bail bondsman and defendant that allows the defendant out of jail in exchange for a fee and their promise to show for their court date.

If the defendant does not comply with the stipulations of their agreement the bail bond is nullified, the court will keep the full amount of the bail and the defendant will be jailed until their legal matters are settled.

As part of the bail bond agreement, the bail bondsman pays the court for bail and is therefore responsible if the defendant does not comply with their requirements. In this case, however, the bondsman will be fully compensated by the defendant.

Bail forfeiture notification is how the court alerts a defendant that they are not in compliance with their legal requirements. Though procedures and terminology vary state by state, here is a general outline of the forfeiture process.                                                                  
How Bail Bond Forfeiture is Handled

1.    Notice of Forfeiture. Within 10 days of the defendant’s failure to appear in court, the court will issue a Notice of Failure and Citation to Show Cause. The document is sent both to the defendant and their attorney, and sets a date for an additional hearing on the charge of failing to appear in court. The date will be at least 35 days from the date of forfeiture to allow the defendant time to respond.

2.    Order for Judgment on Bond Forfeiture. If the defendant does not surrender within 30 days, the judge will sign an Order of Judgment requiring the defendant to pay again the amount of the bond. The order of judgment is again sent to both the defendant and their attorney, and allows between 45 and 90 days for the judgment to be settled.

3.    If the defendant continues to defy the court, the bondsman may be in jeopardy of losing the money the posted for bail and the court may revoke their ability to write bonds. If the defendant does comply within 12 months, the court will repay the bail amount.

The bail bond system is not a ‘Get out of Jail Free’ card and the court will show no leniency to those who defy their orders. A defendant who jumps bail will be methodically tracked down and brought to justice, it’s best to adhere to the court’s demands from the get go.

Posted by Javi Calderon, on April 4, 2012 at 2:37 PM