Bail jumping is an offense with both criminal and civil consequences, including the possibility of additional jail time and the loss of collateral used to secure a bond. It is either a misdemeanor or felony, depending on the original charge.
If you fail to appear in court, a judge can issue a bench warrant for your arrest, meaning police will find a record of it whenever they run a check on your name, or a licensed bail bondsman can track you down and take you to jail. And you can easily be found by the ever increasing police departments using license plate scanners to passively check every vehicle.
The best time to deal with a failure to appear / bail jumping case is before you are caught. There may be excellent defenses and negotiations possible to make this go away, and get you a new court date.
However, if you are caught and arrested, your opportunities to argue for a reasonable outcome are much more limited.
Either way, we are prepared to help. Please contact our Texas defense attorneys for a criminal consultation on your bail jumping/failure to appear case.
Setting Bail in Texas
Texas courts have leeway to set bail amounts as they see fit, as long as it is not excessive. A judge typically sets bail in misdemeanor or felony cases depending on:
1. The seriousness and nature of the offense.
2. The amount the judge believes is necessary to ensure your appearance.
3. Your ability to meet the bail amount.
In most cases, you don’t have to pay the full amount. A licensed bail bondsman will do that for you, charging you a fee of about 10 percent of the total. For example, you would probably pay about $1,000 to a bondsman if bail is set at $10,000.
For high bail amounts, you may need to put up collateral, such as a house or car.
After paying bail and providing your contact information to the court, you will be released. But you must agree to return to court on a certain day at a certain time to deal with the original charges.
Failing to Appear for Court
The bail bondsman usually will check in with you to make sure you are complying with the conditions of bond, meaning not committing any other criminal offenses, not traveling out of the jurisdiction and not violating any special requirements.
Texas law allows the bondsman to request a warrant from the judge if he can’t find you, or suspects that you have broken the terms. If the judge agrees, you can be sent back to jail and may lose the money or collateral you gave the bondsman.
The judge also can issue a capias (warrant) for your arrest if you jump bail and don’t have a “reasonable excuse” such as illness or unforeseen circumstances beyond your control. An outstanding criminal warrant means you can be caught at any time, and will likely be jailed, possibly until your court case is resolved.
Texas Failure to Appear – Penalties
The charges for failing to appear are:
- Class C misdemeanor if the original charge was a Class C. Punishable by a fine of up to $500.
- Class A misdemeanor if the original charge was a Class A or B. Punishable by up to one year in a county jail.
- Third-degree felony if the original charge was a felony. Punishable by 2 to 10 years in a state prison.
The judge also is likely to order a forfeiture of the bond. That means the bondsman would lose the $10,000 put up for your release from jail, and you would become indebted to him for that amount.
Free Legal Defense Consultation From An Experienced Defense Lawyer in Texas
Because of the possibility of additional criminal charges and the potential for serious financial losses from a bail jumping charge, it is always a good idea to seek the advice of a criminal defense lawyer. We can help argue that you had a valid reason for missing a court appearance, or request that the judge give you a second chance and reinstate your bond.
Please contact us to talk about your case, and we’ll tell you exactly what we can do to help. There’s no obligation for the consultation.