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What Happens to a Bail Fugitive?

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When a defendant out on bail fails to appear for a scheduled court hearing, that defendant will eventually become a bail fugitive. The consequences for failing to appear in court may include an arrest warrant and financial penalties.

The Bail Fugitive and the Court Hearing

At the court hearing, once a defendant fails to appear the presiding judge may do one of two things:

1. Immediately issue a bench warrant for the defendant’s arrest.

2. Provide a small time allowance – generally no more than a few days – for the defendant to return to court. If the defendant does not return within the specified period of time a bench warrant is issued.

The Bail Fugitive and the Bench Warrant

A bench warrant is a type of arrest warrant which is issued for a bail fugitive. The warrant will not expire until the defendant contacts the court and resolves the court case and the separate bench warrant.

The bench warrant comes with its own penalties and fines. In many cases, a defendant arrested on a bench warrant will be sentenced to extra jail time and will have to pay a fine to the court to resolve the warrant.

A defendant who has a bench warrant may be arrested at anytime. If the defendant is out on a bail bond, the bail bondsmen may hire a recovery agent, or bounty hunter, to locate the defendant and bring the defendant to jail for arrest.

The Bail Fugitive and the Bail Bond

A bail fugitive out on a bail bond loses all financial collateral that was used to obtain the bail bond. Defendants who violated the terms of the bail bond may lose all savings accounts, properties, stocks and even their personal homes if they fail to appear for their scheduled court hearing. Family members or friends of the defendant who used their personal savings or property as collateral for the bail bond will lose their collateral as well.

  • Even if a defendant eventually returns to the court system – whether through their lawyer or through an arrest – the money for the bail bond may not be returned.

A defendant out on a bail bond who has become a bail fugitive should contact the courts as soon as possible or turn themselves in for arrest. While the financial costs of the bond may be lost, the courts are often more lenient on defendants who eventually turn themselves in.

*The information in this article does not constitute legal advice. Please contact a legal professional in your local area for the best up-to-date and accurate legal advice.

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