Once police have probable cause to suspect that a crime has occurred, they can arrest someone whom they believe violated the law. They will give the evidence they have collected to a prosecutor, and a prosecutor will likely begin the process of pursuing criminal charges.
During an arraignment hearing, a judge will notify that person of the charges that they face and also the terms that they must meet to secure their release pending trial, if this opportunity is available to them. Making a bond payment to the courts is often necessary, especially if someone faces significant charges rather than minor misdemeanor offenses that would see them released on their own recognizance.
Bond payment is a way of ensuring that someone returns for their trial. That bond is often thousands of dollars, and the person who posts it will almost certainly want those funds back whenever possible. When does someone have to worry about forfeiting the bond posted to secure their release?
Failure to appear is the most common reason
The primary objective of requiring someone’s post bond is to ensure that they present themselves for trial as required and do not attempt to flee the jurisdiction to avoid criminal proceedings. If someone does not show up to court when scheduled for their trial, the courts may then begin the process of forfeiting their bond.
Not only will the courts retain the money paid, but the individual is subject to immediate arrest and may end up in state custody and unable to secure release again until after their trial. Sometimes, the courts impose other restrictions on an individual when allowing for their release, including prohibiting certain kinds of financial transactions or contact with victims. Violations of the terms of the bond could also result in partial or total forfeiture of the amount posted in certain cases.
Not every forfeiture case is straightforward
Sometimes, the state seeks to retain someone’s bond and revoke their release from state custody without true justification for doing so. There may be reasonable explanations for someone’s failure to appear or perceived violations of the terms of the bond. Medical emergencies and legal obligations elsewhere are among the numerous circumstances that may provide starting point for a legal response to bond forfeiture attempts.
Protecting money posted as bond and one’s freedom until trial can be as important as properly responding to pending criminal charges. Seeking legal guidance can help to achieve both of these aims.