You were shocked when you found yourself behind bars. However, when the judge set a bail amount, you paid a bail bond company to secure your release. Certainly grateful to return to your job and family, you might, however, feel overwhelmed about facing the charges against you. While you may be tempted to duck out and avoid court, there are some very compelling reasons why you should not jump bail.
1. Tracing your evasion
Bail bond companies use investigators called "skip tracers" to locate and apprehend people who do not appear in court. Skip tracers use a variety of methods to locate someone through databases such as
- cell phone records
- credit card applications
- air travel records
- employment applications
- utility bills
- tax records
Because so much of your information today is available on the internet, obtaining this information is not difficult. Once the skip tracer has narrowed down your whereabouts, a bounty hunter will take the information and, armed with an arrest warrant, begin looking for you.
2. Yes, a bounty hunter
Bounty hunters, you think, make for good cable TV entertainment, but probably won't really come after you. Wrong. Bail bonds companies are highly invested in getting you to court. After all, they paid for 90% of your bail money; if you don't appear in court, they are going to lose that money. Really, there are few people willing to lose 90% of a significant amount of money for someone they don't know.
Bounty hunters, far from being Wild West renegades, work in 46 states as trained fugitive recovery agents. Twenty-two states have licensed bounty hunters, while some states have simply established special statutes under which they must operate. Usually regulated by the state's insurance commissioner, bounty hunters must attend a vocational training program and maintain continuing education requirements. Bounty hunters are empowered by the bail bond company with the authority to arrest fugitives, and are paid a percentage of the bond when they have done so.
3. Shooting yourself in the foot
If you try to evade the law and are apprehended by a bounty hunter, you are going to be singing the blues.
Legal woes. When you finally face a judge for the charges against you, the fact that you tried to skip town is going to make your legal problems worse. Not only will you probably be jailed until your trial is complete, but you may rack up additional charges depending on the circumstances and the state in which you reside. In some states, bail jumping is a felony, even if your original offense was a misdemeanor.
Financial woes. While you might not have to forfeit the bond money you paid if you appear in court within 30 days of the missed appearance, you just may--again, it depends on the laws in your state. If the bail bond company loses the bond it put up for you, you can expect them to come after you (and whoever cosigned for you, if applicable) for repayment. Just a few high-end bond forfeitures and a company can go under; therefore, they are going to make sure they collect.
Bounty hunters have anywhere from 30 days to one year to find fugitives before the bail bond company has to forfeit bail. Rest assured, if you have a bounty hunter on your tail, he/she is not going to give up and just go away.
As you can see, it is far better to go to court and, with the assistance of a defense lawyer, face the charges against you. Be responsible with the opportunity afforded you through the bail process. You just may be exonerated, and then you can jump--for joy! For more information, contact a local bail bond company like All Star Bail Bonds.