There are consequences for forfeiting bail, such as when the accused fails to show up for a court hearing.
Lawyers in Louisiana may be permitted by judges to appeal for releases in behalf of clients for non-violent crimes. This can be considered posting bail without paying any money. Instead, the accused signs a document assuring the court that he or she will attend all hearings. It can be done without the involvement of a bail bondsman. An attorney represents the defendant in making this request.
Posting bail can also be made by way of cash, commercial surety and property bonds. All these have been explained extensively in previous articles. As a refresher, the fourth type of bond is the Personal Surety Bond Undertaking or PSBU. It is almost like the Release on Recognizance (ROR) with the exception of someone else pledging the full bond amount. The judge holds a hearing wherein the signatory shows that there are enough assets to cover the bond in case the accused skips any court appearance. The judge has the right to compel the guarantor to pay the full cost.
Bail Forfeiture is deemed as a grave transgression or wrongdoing. This happens if the defendant fails to show up for a court hearing. When a person jumps bail, the judge immediately puts out a bench warrant. It is in the form of a written court order that authorizes police to arrest the accused. The date of cancellation is also announced during said hearing.
The litigant becomes a fugitive of law. The bail bondsman is also given the responsibility to get the defendant back and present this person before the court. The forfeiture is cancelled if the accuse appears on or before the date set by the judge. The transgressor is also bound to return the bail money if the forfeiture period lapses. However, there may be legitimate reasons for a person top miss a trial such as death of a family member or failure to receive the written advice sent by court employees. If the judge finds this reasoning valid, the bail forfeiture is revoked and a new schedule is agreed upon. An offender considered as flight risk is placed in custody until after the case is resolved.
In the event that the defendant commits a deliberate act of fleeing from the law, relatives have no legal option but to surrender the accused to authorities right away. If not, there is a possibility the relative may be charged as an accomplice. Hiring a lawyer can help alleviate damages caused by bench warrants.
Aside from bail forfeiture, the court is free to impose fines for failure of appearance. The gravity of extra charges will depend on the original arraignment regardless of whether this is a simple misdemeanor or severe crime. It also will not matter if the fugitive voluntarily gives up or is recaptured by police.
Lastly, bail forfeiture can be very expensive and affect the outcome of the trial. The defendant may face more charges and imposed additional sentence such as more time in jail.