Whenever a person gets into jail, loved ones usually start looking for a way to get them out. This is the first concern before you begin preparations for a trial if there will be one. But it is important to have a good understanding of how the bail system works and the consequences of jumping bail.
Here’s a brief description of how bail works – bail is an amount of money either set by a judge or set by a bail schedule that is held by the presiding court in order to release a person from jail. The bail is to ensure that a defendant attends all court dates. When a defendant attends all court dates, the bail money is refunded, however if he misses a court date, the court has the right to keep the money posted for bail among other things.
A person is said to jump bail when they fail to appear in court on a scheduled date. All over the world, jumping bail is seen as a crime in itself, different from the initial charge against the defendant. This could lead to a forfeiture of the bail sum, in Nevada called a “Nevada Bail Forfeiture”.
Implication and Punishment for Jumping Bail
Apart from bail forfeiture, here are other implications of jumping bail:
- If a family member or friend posted bail for you, jumping bail leaves them in a difficult situation. Sometimes, they may be required to pay the full bail bond or forfeit the property they used as collateral to fulfill the bail bond;
- You may be declared a fugitive – This is not nearly as exciting as seen in the movies but it is a huge blemish on a person’s character. Once you’re declared a fugitive, the native police in your area are notified and you will be arrested whenever you are identified;
- A judge may hold a defendant in contempt of court pursuant to NRS 199.340 and this may carry fines or extra jail time;
- You could be issued a Nevada Bench Warrant – if a court issues a bench warrant for someone, you will immediately be taken into custody and jailed upon arrest. This is very frightening as you live with the knowledge that if you come into contact with law enforcement, this could result in your arrest. Even when you are unaware of such a warrant, you are still at risk of immediate arrest;
- A person issued a Nevada Bench Warrant, has 30 days to quash the warrant or surrender themselves. Failure to do either in 30 days will result in a charge called “failure to appear” pursuant to NRS 199.335
“Failure to Appear” is sub divided into various categories determined by the reason for a defendant’s absence in court as well as the severity of the underlying crime. Therefore:
- If the defendant fled the state of Nevada with intent to avoid prosecution, then they will face the ‘failure to appear” charges as a category D felony in Nevada, pursuant to NRS 193.130. A defendant can be sentenced between 1-4 years in prison and fined up to $5,000.
This is also applicable where the defendant failed to appear in court for a felony charge.
- If the defendant failed to appear in court on misdemeanor charges, then they can be charged with “failure to appear” as a misdemeanor in Nevada and sentenced up to 6 months in jail and or up to $1,000 in fines, pursuant to NRS 193.150
- Where the defendant failed to appear in court on gross misdemeanor charges, they can be charged with “failure to appear” as a gross misdemeanor in Nevada and can be sentenced up to 364 days in jail and/or fined up to $2000 pursuant to NRS 193.140
Where you used the services of a bondsman/bail agent, and you fail to appear in court, the bondsman in Nevada is allowed to hire bounty hunters to track you down and ensure you show up in court or pay up the sum of the bail bond which the bondsman may have forfeited to the courts.
Consequences of Jumping Bail
Remember that jumping bail only serves to complicate and compound issues not just for you, but also for your loved ones who may have to forego huge sums of money they cannot afford or forfeit properties that may have been in the family for generations. To avoid all the scenarios above, reach out to an attorney who will guide you through the process and help you through a trial.