A person who has been arrested and charged for a crime must face a court trial. And according to the U.S Constitution, every defendant has the right to bail, and “excessive bail shall not be required.”
However, being out on bail doesn’t mean total freedom. The defendant needs to follow certain bail conditions set by the judge. One primary requirement is the mandatory appearance of the defendant in all court proceedings. Being unable to appear in court has serious legal consequences.
Skipping Bail Explained
A defendant released on bail must follow all bail conditions and other legal agreements with a guarantor such as the bail bond agent near me. It is considered skipping bail when the defendant, while out on bail, fails to appear in court to avoid trial, possible conviction, and sentence.
What constitutes Skipping Bail?
When the defendant skipped bail, he committed two acts: defying a court order and breach of contract with the bail bonds company.
- Defying a court order. It is a serious offense when you don’t follow a court order. When someone is out on bail, it is clearly stated that the defendant needs to adhere to all the bail conditions set by the judge. And one of the main requirements is to show up on all court dates.
- Breaching an agreement with the bail bonds company. The most common way to post bail is through a bail bond agent, since the defendant needs to pay for only 10 to 15 percent of the bail amount. The bail bonds company will pose as a guarantor on behalf of the defendant. In return, the defendant will need to sign a contract that requires him/her to report to the agency when significant changes are happening to him.
Is skipping bail a crime?
In Colorado law, failure to appear is under Colorado Revised Statutes, Section 16-2-110. This section states that “If a person upon whom a summons or summons and complaint has been served pursuant to this part 1 fails to appear in person or by counsel at the place and time specified therein, a bench warrant may issue for his arrest.”
The judge may also tack additional charges depending on the defendant’s previous court appearances, prior convictions, nature of charges, and stability in the community. And in some states, skipping bail is illegal and classified as a felony offense. Therefore, the defendant who skips bail may face additional criminal charges aside from the outstanding case.
What should you do if you fail to appear in court?
After the defendant has missed court dates, the offender has 30 days to surrender and legally inform the court and the bail bond company before being charged with skipping jail or bail jumping. Therefore, when you miss a court date, you must do these things immediately:
- The defendant needs to submit a “consent of surety” to the court clerk and then ask for a new court date. The consent of surety can be taken from the bail bonds near me.
- If the defendant didn’t post bail through a bail bonds company, the offender could go directly to the court clerk to secure a new court date.
Legal Defenses for Failure to Appear in Court
Once a person is charged Failure to Appear offense in Colorado, it will go to trial. Like in any other legal charges, the prosecutor needs to prove that the offender intentionally fails to appear in court.
In other words, the offender must be proven guilty without a reasonable doubt that he
- was charged with a crime
- failed to appear intentionally without lawful excuse
- has been issued a summon or released by the court with or without bail
- had a clear understanding of his duties to appear at the next court date
The defendant’s defense attorney needs to prove that the offender has a valid reason for missing the court date. Some of the legal reasoning that could work are:
- Being incarcerated in a different state
- Unable to receive proper notice of the court date.
- Due to severe illness that needs hospitalization
- Missed court dates due to circumstances outside the defendant’s control or due to force majeure.
What are the consequences of skipping bail?
In general, skipping bail has several consequences, such as follows:
- Bench Warrant. It is a type of arrest warrant that authorizes the arrest and detention of a named person. It is called a bench warrant since the offender failed to follow the court order to sit on the “bench” before the judge. If the bench warrant has been issued, the law enforcement officers can search the offender at home or place of work.
- Changes in Bail. Failure to appear in court means forfeiture of bail. If the defendant posts bail through a bail bonds company, they will seize assets such as cars and/or properties. Additionally, the judge may require a higher bail amount to post bail during future bail arraignment.
- Probation. Failure to appear can also happen for people who are on probation. Possible punishments could be loss of probation, additional fines or fees, stricter terms placed on the probation, or mandatory community service.
Penalties of Skipping Bail
The penalties for skipping bail will be added to any current penalty that comes with the defendant’s outstanding criminal charges. The penalties are categorized into two: misdemeanor and felony bail jumping.
- Misdemeanor Bail Jumping. The defendant will face Class 3 misdemeanor bail jumping if he was charged with a misdemeanor offense and fails to show up in court. The penalty will be up to 6 months of jail time and fines ranging from $50 to $750.
- Felony Bail Jumping. The defendant will face Class 6 felony bail jumping if he was charged with a felony crime and missed a court date. It is punishable by at least 12 months to 18 months of jail time and fines ranging from $1,000 to $100,000.
Learn more about the bail process and conditions to avoid violations and penalties with missing court dates. Call an established bail bonds company like Lucky Lucero’s Bail Bonds anytime at 303-659-2245.