What Happens if You Skip Bail in Texas?

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When someone is arrested in Texas, the court typically sets bail as a financial guarantee that the defendant will return for their court appearances. Bail serves as a crucial mechanism within the judicial system, balancing the presumption of innocence until proven guilty with the public’s safety. However, failing to appear in court after posting bail can have serious immediate and long-term consequences for a defendant. This blog post explores what happens when someone misses their court date in Texas, highlighting both the immediate fallout and the more enduring repercussions.

Understanding Bail in Texas

Bail is a set amount of money that acts as insurance between the court and the defendant. In Texas, the amount and type of bail can vary greatly depending on factors such as the severity of the crime, previous criminal history, the defendant’s ties to the community, and the risk of fleeing. Bail can be posted by paying the full amount in cash, through a bail bondsman, or via a property bond in some cases.

The Immediate Consequences

When you miss a court date in Texas after posting bail, you trigger a series of immediate and serious consequences. These include the issuance of a bench warrant for your arrest and the forfeiture of any bail money you have posted.

 

A Warrant Will Be Issued: The most immediate consequence of failing to appear in court is the issuance of a bench warrant. Unlike regular arrest warrants, a bench warrant isn’t subject to a statute of limitations and can only be resolved by the defendant’s appearance before the court. This means that the police can arrest the individual at any time, whether during a routine traffic stop or through more direct means.

 

Your Bail Will Be Forfeited: Alongside the issuance of a warrant, the court will declare the bail amount forfeited. This means that any cash or property posted as bail will be seized by the court. If a bail bondsman was involved, the responsibility to pay the forfeited bail falls on them, and they will likely seek reimbursement from the defendant or their cosigners, usually through any collateral put up for the bond.

 

The Long-Term Repercussions

The repercussions of missing a court appearance extend far beyond the immediate consequences. Over the long term, you may face additional criminal charges, significant financial penalties, and a substantial impact on your ability to secure bail in the future.

 

You’ll Face Additional Charges: Missing a court appearance can lead to additional criminal charges, typically “failure to appear,” which can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony, depending on the original charges. This compounds the defendant’s legal troubles and can lead to more severe penalties.

 

Financial Implications: The financial consequences extend beyond the loss of the bail money. Additional fines and charges can accrue, and the cost of legal defense can increase as the case becomes more complicated. Defendants may also face civil suits from bail bondsmen seeking to recover the bail amount.

Impact on Future Bail Opportunities: Perhaps one of the most damaging long-term effects of failing to appear is the impact on future bail opportunities. Judges are less likely to grant bail to someone who has previously skipped a court date, and if they do, it is often at a much higher rate.

What to Do If You Miss Your Court Appearance

If you miss your court appearance, it’s crucial to act quickly to mitigate the consequences. Here are the steps you can take:

 

Contact Your Attorney: The first step should always be to contact your attorney. They can provide legal advice specific to your case and help arrange a new court date.

Surrender Voluntarily: If a warrant has been issued, voluntarily surrendering to the court can sometimes play in your favor, showing the judge that you have no intention of evading the legal process.

 

Prepare to Explain Your Absence: Be prepared to explain your absence in court. Acceptable reasons typically include emergencies or misunderstandings about the court date.

 

Seek Bail Again: If you are taken into custody, your lawyer can request another bail hearing. Demonstrating that your failure to appear was not intentional is crucial here.

Missing a court appearance in Texas is a serious offense that can destabilize your financial, professional, and personal life. It’s essential to understand the consequences and know how to respond if you find yourself in this predicament. Always consult with a qualified attorney to navigate the complexities of the situation effectively.

 

We’re here to help when you need to post a bail bond. Contact our office today. We are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

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