Except for serious crimes like terrorism, most accused individuals may be granted bail to carry on with their lives out of jail while awaiting the outcome of their cases. If you are out on bail, however, it is important to understand that your freedom is subject to adhering to your bail terms. And one of these is the requirement to show up in court when you are required to do so.
Besides interfering with investigations or traveling out of state or the country without notifying the court, one of the most serious mistakes you can commit while out on bail is missing your court dates. Commonly known as jumping bail, missing court can lead to serious personal and legal problems.
Understanding the consequences of jumping bail
Most often, the exact action the court will take depends on your reasons for not showing up. For instance, the court will be lenient if you jump bail because you had a genuine medical emergency. If your reasons are flimsy, however, then you might have to contend with the following consequences:
- You may forfeit your collateral or bail money
- A bench warrant will be issued against you
- Your bail will be revoked, meaning that you will spend the rest of the trial period in jail
- If you are released on bail, the bail terms might be set much higher
Jumping bail will also end up on your criminal record. Thus, should you be arrested again, even for an unrelated offense, the judge will take note of your history of jumping bail. Consequently, this will impact the outcome of your petition for bail.
Protecting your rights
Whether your excuse for jumping bail is genuine or not depends on the facts of your case. If the circumstances surrounding your case were beyond your control, however, then you need to explore your legal options and avoid the harsh penalties that can come with missing court.