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What is Bail Forfeiture?

When a person is arrested, they may post bail so that they do not go to jail pending the hearing of their case. Bail forfeiture is when the court possesses the bail amount instead of releasing it to the defendant after the trial. It may be voluntary or involuntary depending on who is issuing orders.

Voluntary and involuntary bail forfeiture

One of the conditions set by the court before posting bail is that the defendant must appear in court. Failure to do so results in involuntary bail forfeiture whereby you lose the bail amount and a warrant of arrest will be issued. It will be harder to get bail if you have a record of breaching bail terms and conditions. Voluntary bail forfeiture occurs when the defendant gives orders to the court to release the bail amount to pay court fees or any fines.

Offenses that are bail forfeitable

Depending on your state, the bail amount can be used to close your case and secure your release. Mostly, it applies to traffic violations and misdemeanor cases.

A bail bondsman and bail forfeiture

In most cases, the defendant may fail to raise the bail amount. They may require the services of a bail bond company to provide surety of the bail amount. But in case the defendant fails to show up in court, the bail amount is forfeited. To avoid financial losses, a bail bond company may still sue the defendant. Alternatively, he may ask the court to delay bail forfeiture to give him time to find the defendant and bring him to court. The use of bounty hunters is allowed in some states. Due to the financial loss at stake, the bounty hunters work very hard and usually find the defendant and takes him to court. In such an instance, the bail bond company does not lose its money through forfeiture.

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