Bail Bonding Risks: FAQs on Revocation, Forfeiture and More

News and Resources

Updated on September 22nd 2023

Hand touching hundred dollar bills spread across table

Police in the US made more than 13,000,000 arrests last year. Many of those arrests were for infractions that required a person to be bailed out unless they wanted to spend perhaps months in jail while awaiting their day in court. Most people are familiar with the concept of bail although many harbor misconceptions and questions about how it actually works - or the risks you face when you legally agree to a loved one's bail conditions. One of the biggest issues on the minds of people who bail out their family and friends is this: "What happens if the person I bail out is re-arrested while awaiting trial? Am I responsible for paying the entire bail amount to the bondsman?" Our bail agents will address these important questions and more below.

The Chain of Responsibility

When a person is released from custody on a bond, it's the responsibility of the bonding agent and the indemnitor (the person who signed for the bail bond) to ensure the accused shows up for all their scheduled court dates. If the accused fails to appear bail is revoked. In that case, the bail agent loses the money they put up to secure the bond and they then turn to the indemnitor to recoup their losses. Since the indemnitor signed a contract stating they would cover the bail agent in just such a circumstance they are legally responsible for reimbursing the bail agent for their loss. That might also include the cost of hiring a bounty hunter to track down the fugitive and return him to custody.

The Effect of Being Re-Arrested on the Bail Bonds Process

Police offer placing handcuffs on arrested man

While the indemnitor ultimately takes the hit if someone they bailed out fails to show up in court it's a different story if the person out on bail is re-arrested. In that case, both the bail bonding company and the indemnitor are relieved of any liability toward the accused. And that is true whether the accused was arrested for a bail violation or for allegedly committing a new crime. In either case, they are relieved of responsibility. This falls under the heading "surrendering the bond", which means that the person is now back in custody and the original bond is no longer applicable. While the fee the indemnitor paid the bail agent is non-refundable the indemnitor is not responsible for the entire bond amount as they would be if the accused simply failed to show up for their court date.

For the Record

The indemnitor has the right at any time to surrender the bond. That is, they can decide at any time while their friend or loved one is out on bail awaiting trial to cancel the bond agreement. In this case, the accused will be returned to jail to await trial and the indemnitor's responsibility will be finished. This sometimes happens if an indemnitor becomes convinced the person they bailed out is preparing to flee. By surrendering the bond the accused is quickly returned to custody and the indemnitor doesn't suffer the financial hardship of having to pay the entire bond cost for someone who ran from justice. Again though, the premium that was paid to the bail bonding agent is non-refundable.

The Implications for the Accused

Judge in old-fashioned wig gripping bible and gavel leans forward with menacing expression

While both the bail agent and the indemnitor are cleared of responsibility should the defendant be re-arrested while out on bail, there are a couple of serious implications for the accused.

  • Voiding of any settlements - When someone on bail is re-arrested there is a good chance any plea bargain the defendant's lawyer may have been working on with prosecutors will likely be voided. If there were any financial settlements being contemplated or worked out they too may also be ditched. The best a defendant can likely hope for in such situations is that prosecutors will be in a generous mood and agree to work on a new plea agreement (one that will no doubt be much less accommodating to the defendant) and that any financial arrangements that were in the works may remain on the table in the interest of seeing that the aggrieved party is properly compensated.
  • Crime bail crime - No it's not the title of a Hollywood movie. It's what happens when a person who was accused of committing a felony and was bailed out is re-arrested on suspicion of committing yet another felony. In that case, the defendant may have more time added to their sentence for the original crime. On top of facing prosecution for the second felony itself. It's also likely that the court will ask for a substantially higher bail or refuse to grant bail again after the re-arrest.

It is always in the best interest of all parties involved for the person who has been released on bond to adhere to all the conditions of their release and that they show up for their scheduled day in court. If, however, a defendant is re-arrested while out on bail the consequences for the indemnitor are not as severe as they would be if the defendant simply skipped bail. Still, no one wants to see a loved one compound their problems by behaving badly while out on bail. So it's the responsibility of both the bail bonds agent and the indemnitor to impress upon the accused the importance of staying the course.

Does Revoke Bail Always Lead to Forfeited Bail?

Being released on bond is not as simple as "Okay, you can go now. See you in court!" There are almost always conditions attached to a person's release. Sometimes intentionally and sometimes unintentionally people violate those release terms and when they do their bail is revoked and the process of bond forfeiture is set in motion. But is bond forfeiture inevitable if a person violates the terms of their release? Or are there ways to stop the process and save both the bail bonds agent and the indemnitor a lot of money and aggravation?

Will I Have to Forfeit Bail If They Fail to Appear?

Any time a defendant fails to appear in court to face the charges against them they are considered to have "jumped bail" and their bail is revoked. Once the revocation order is entered the court may issue an arrest warrant for the defendant. In Jefferson County, Arapahoe County, and Denver County, a failure to appear (FTA) is considered contempt of court and the defendant will likely have that added to their list of offenses if and when they reappear. But that isn't the only reason bail can be revoked by the state. The court may also revoke bail if the accused commits a crime while out on bail (even if they haven't been convicted yet) or if they violate any other condition of their release, such as contacting a person they were told not to contact.

Is The Bail Revocation Process the Same in State and Federal Courts?

Judge in black robe pounding gavel at a mahogany desk in chambers

While the state and federal court systems use slightly different guidelines to determine if a bail violation has occurred, the end result tends to be very similar: fines, potential jail or prison time, and an angry judge. The biggest difference in how the two court systems deal with the issue of bail violations is that Federal sanctions are pretty consistent from sea to shining sea. While state sanctions resulting from bail violations can vary significantly from state to state, even though the revocation triggers themselves remain pretty much the same: failure to appear, committing a crime, leaving the state, etc. So the upshot is this:

  • Jumping bail on a state charge in Florida will likely produce a different penalty than jumping bail on a state charge in Colorado.
  • While jumping bail on a federal charge in Florida will likely produce a similar penalty as jumping bail on a federal charge in Colorado.

Forfeiting the Bond

Hand holding one dollar bill

Both federal and state laws allow for bond forfeiture in cases where bail has been revoked. Should it come to that the bail bonds agent who issued the bond will be the one who loses money initially. But that situation won't last long because he'll then come after the indemnitor to obtain reimbursement for his loss.

However, after bail has been revoked but before bond forfeiture has been triggered, the bail agent is usually given a chance to bring the defendant in or to discover if there were mitigating factors that caused him to violate the terms of his release. In some cases, the bail agent will be able to track down the miscreant easily, but in other cases, he may have to enlist a bounty hunter to find the defendant and return him to custody.

Your Bondsman and Indemnitor Don't Have to Suffer

Some folks who skip bail have a change of heart soon afterward. They realize their actions are going to bring a world of hurt down on the person who signed off on their bond (the aforementioned "indemnitor") and cause major headaches for the bail agent who helped them. But is it possible to stop the forfeiture process before the loved one winds up being raked over the coals? Or is forfeiture inevitable once bail has been revoked?

Thankfully, the system has some reasonable safeguards baked in that make it possible to prevent a defendant's short-sighted decisions from becoming long-term problems for their indemnitor. In many cases, a judge will set aside a forfeiture order if:

  • The defendant returns promptly and voluntarily - The wheels of the criminal justice system tend to move slowly so if a defendant returns of his own accord shortly after having his bail revoked and no time or money was spent looking for him, the forfeiture may be set aside. Maybe.
  • If the defendant's violation wasn't intentional - Let's say a defendant is instructed to stay 500 feet away from another person. On Saturday he goes to the mall and, low and behold, he winds up on the same escalator as the person he's supposed to avoid. That person then drops a dime on him and bail is revoked. If the defendant can prove the violation wasn't intentional any forfeiture efforts may be set aside.
  • There are other mitigating factors - It's possible a defendant may be involved in a serious accident while out on bail and wind up in the hospital unable to meet all the conditions of his release. Or, there may have been a family emergency that required his attention when he was supposed to be in court. Whether these kinds of mitigating factors are accepted and the forfeiture set aside will depend on whether the judge is convinced of their legitimacy.

Not every case of revoked bail needs to end with an indemnitor losing their house car or other assets. If you have questions talk to the licensed bail bonding agents at Tayler Made today. They're here to help.

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Tayler Made Bail Bonding is available 24 hours a day and 7 days a week.

(303) 623-0399
3595 South Teller Street
Suite 300A
Lakewood, CO 80235