Given the chaos unleashed by COVID-19 on the California court system, bail jumping has become a more common occurrence. Many courts were forced to close suddenly and had to reschedule or delay trials, hearings, and other court appearances.
Why No One Should Jump Bail
When you agree to post bail, you are promising the court that you will attend all hearings and appearances during your trial. In return for posting bail and fulfilling the court’s requirements, you get to go home to your family and friends while you fight to defend yourself. However, the consequences of breaking this promise can make your situation significantly worse.
If you missed a court appearance due to a mistake, sickness, or other conflicting obligations, then your bail bond agent may be able to work with the court to have your appearance or hearing rescheduled, but this is not guaranteed. The court may consider your bond forfeit, meaning you cannot recover the full value of the bail bond. You will also be responsible for paying the bail bond agency their premium.
Jumping bail, fleeing a criminal trial, or refusing to attend court appearances are all crimes on their own. If you fail to attend a court appearance or contact the court for up to 14 days, the court may charge you under California Penal Code 1320.5, depending on your original charges.
If you jumped bail on a misdemeanor charge, then you can face an additional misdemeanor charge of bail jumping and be charged with up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine. For felony charges, you can face another felony charge and be sentenced to:
- Up to one year in jail;
- Up to 16 months, two, or three years in prison;
- A fine of up to $10,000; or
- Both a fine and imprisonment.
Jumping bail will only make your situation worse. If you have issues making a court appearance, your first step should be to talk to your bail bond agent and attorney to discuss your situation. We may be able to work together to reschedule your court appearance, protect your bail from becoming forfeit, and prevent you from going back to jail.
What Happens to a Co-signer If a Defendant Jumps Bail?
In many cases, defendants require a co-signer to make bail. A co-signer agrees to share the financial and legal responsibilities of bail, including making sure a defendant attends all court appearances and pays the bail bond agency’s premium. When a defendant jumps bail, the financial responsibilities of the bond fall completely on the co-signer’s shoulders. While you, as a co-signer, will not face criminal charges – unless you helped the defendant skip bail – you can face civil fines from the court.
Co-signers, however, do have options. If a co-signer believes a defendant is likely to jump bail, then they can contact the bail bond agent and court to have their agreement ended. This would mean the defendant would have to return to jail, as bail has been revoked. In addition, if the co-signer knows the whereabouts of a missing defendant, they should contact the bail bond agency as soon as possible to ensure the defendant is safely taken into custody.
Speak to an Experienced Bail Bond Agent Today
At Balboa Bail Bonds, we have seen how quarantine has made many of our clients’ lives more difficult, especially when it comes to attending court appearances safely. We know you may be struggling with work, with your family, and with your trial. If you have issues making a court appearance or are worried about your responsibilities as a co-signer, you should not hesitate to talk to one of our agents about your situation. Every member of our team is required to have at least five years of experience in this industry and can answer all of your questions.
If you need help paying bail for a loved one, relative, or friend, reach out to Balboa Bail Bonds online or call one of our offices at (619) 760-2222. We have agents in San Diego, Riverside, and Orange County and offer the most affordable rates in the industry.