Everything You Need to Know About Bail Forfeiture
Do you have a family member facing a Connecticut criminal charge? Helping them make bail is likely your highest priority to ensure they don’t spend unnecessary time in jail. Understanding bail bonds and, more specifically, bail forfeiture can help you understand the consequences of all your decisions during this challenging time.
What is bail forfeiture? In this guide, the team at Connecticut Bail Bonds Group takes an in-depth look at bail forfeiture and its implications for defendants.
Bail Bonds – An Overview
After arresting someone in Connecticut, the police will charge the individual with a crime and take them into custody. Once the booking process is complete, the defendant may be eligible to post bail and get out of jail, even though the criminal procedure is still in progress.
Bail is the payment that the defendant makes to the court. This payment secures the defendant’s agreement to:
- Adhere to specific conditions for release
- Return to court for the trial on a future date
What is the difference between “bail” and a “bail bond”?
As we noted above, bail is the collateral a defendant leaves with the court to ensure they return for the criminal proceedings. The court will repay the bail amount if the defendant returns for the trial and adheres to all bail restrictions.
A bail bond is an agreement that comes into play if the defendant doesn’t have the financial means to post bail. Under this agreement, a bail bondsman in Connecticut posts bail on behalf of a defendant, providing the court with the assurance that the defendant will meet the bail conditions.
What Is Bail Forfeiture?
What is bail forfeiture? In the section above, we mentioned that the court returns the bail amount if the defendant complies with all bail conditions, which includes returning to court for trial.
Bail forfeiture occurs when the court takes permanent possession of the bail, and there is no possibility of repayment to the defendant.
Bail forfeiture can be voluntary or involuntary:
Involuntary Bail Bond Forfeiture
Involuntary forfeiture occurs when the defendant fails to attend the scheduled court hearing. In this case, the judge will revoke the bail bond and order the release of the bail amount to the court. In other words, the defendant forfeits the bail amount, losing the money they paid to get out of jail.
However, if the defendant has a valid reason for failing to appear, the court may reinstate the bond with no forfeiture of the bail amount. Examples of valid excuses include imprisonment in another location or hospitalization on the hearing date. If the defendant can prove they didn’t receive notification of the hearing date, the court might reschedule without possessing the bail amount.
Note that involuntary bail forfeiture doesn’t mean the end of the criminal proceedings. Forfeiting bail is not the punishment for failing to appear in court, but it is one of the consequences. Under Connecticut General Statutes § 53a-173, failure to appear in court is a separate crime, and the defendant may receive a penalty in addition to a sentence for the crime currently pending.
If a defendant doesn’t show up for the first hearing, the court will issue a bail commissioner letter reminding them to appear on a specific date. Should the defendant fail to appear for a second time, the court might issue a warrant for the defendant’s arrest and raise the bail amount.
Failure to appear for a hearing can count against a defendant during the second bail hearing, and the court may increase the bail amount significantly.
Voluntary Bail Bond Forfeiture
Voluntary bail bond forfeiture is when the defendant voluntarily decides to release the bail amount to the court. In this case, the defendant redirects the money to cover legal fees, court costs, and other expenses, such as fines, because they have no other way of funding these expenses. Voluntarily bail forfeiture may be the practical course of action in these circumstances.
That said, voluntary forfeiture is not an option to cover fines and fees payable to the victim or the victim’s family. Should the defendant decide to forfeit bail voluntarily, it can only be to cover costs relating to court proceedings.
Depending on the charge, a defendant can voluntarily forfeit bail to close a case.
For example, in the case of a misdemeanor, failure to appear may constitute a voluntary bail forfeiture. The court will close the case without issuing a bail commissioner letter or arrest warrant. However, the bail forfeiture is an admission of guilt, and the court will enter a conviction into the defendant’s criminal record.
This conviction will likely appear in background checks and have various other legal consequences. As a result, consulting with a lawyer is crucial before voluntarily forfeiting bail.
What Happens If the Defendant Can’t Post the Bail Amount?
If your family member doesn’t have the funds to post their own bail, consider using bail bonds services. A bail bond provides quick access to bail, which means your loved one can get out of jail as soon as possible. A professional bail bondsman will also help you and the defendant navigate the entire bail bonds process and help you make informed decisions, ensuring the best possible outcome.
Suppose a bail forfeiture situation arises after acquiring a bail bond. In this case, the bail bondsman has legal grounds to file a lawsuit against the defendant or their estate for the bail amount.
In some cases, the bail bondsman can also approach the court, request a forfeiture delay, then return the accused to custody before the new deadline.
If your family member used a bail bond and is risking bail forfeiture, it is always advisable to consult with the bail bondsman and learn about the available options.
Do You Need Bail Bonds in Connecticut?
Does your loved one need to be bailed out of jail? Contact our licensed and insured team at Connecticut Bail Bonds Group.