Bail Jumping and “Failure to Appear”
Bail jumping is a criminal violation with criminal and civil penalties, including additional jail time and the loss of assets used to post bail. Depending on the initial offense, it is either a misdemeanor or a felony.
Failure to appear in court on a stipulated court date in a criminal matter is sometimes referred to as “bail jumping.” Under Texas Penal Code 38.10, bail jumping is a distinct crime. To sustain a conviction for this felony, the evidence must show that the defendant, who was released from detention on the condition that he or she appear later, purposefully or willfully failed to appear in compliance with the terms of her release.
If you fail to appear in court, a judge can issue a bench warrant for your arrest, which means police will discover a record of it anytime they run a check on your name, or a licensed bail bondsman can find you and transport you to jail. And you can be readily detected by the growing number of police agencies who use license plate scanners to passively examine every car.
It is advisable to deal with a failure to appear / bail-jumping issue before you are apprehended. Good defenses and discussions may be available to get this dismissed and a new court date.
However, if you are apprehended and detained, your options for arguing for a fair decision are far more restricted.
In any case, we are ready to assist. Don’t hesitate to contact a Texas defense attorney for a criminal consultation on your bail jumping/failure to appear case.
What Are the Penalties in Texas for Bail Jumping?
After being arrested, you may generally get out of police custody by posting bail. The court system understands that being detained for a lengthy period can cause significant problems for you and your family. You will usually be permitted to leave jail quite soon after being arrested as long as your release will not endanger others.
A judge determines the amount of money you must pay to be released, and the goal of bail is to ensure that you return to court when necessary. The judge may impose restrictions on bail, such as forbidding you from committing other offenses, preventing you from visiting particular locations, or associating with specific persons. If you make all required appearances throughout your case and comply with the terms imposed, the bail you deposited will be returned to you.
People may attempt to run after posting bail and being freed in some circumstances because they do not feel they can defend the charges and fear that they will be convicted and sentenced to jail if they return to court. They may flee the region to escape local authorities or fail to appear in court when summoned. Bail jumping is the deliberate failure to appear in court when called. In Texas, any bail jumping is a criminal violation, and extra charges may be added to the original orders.
If you skip bail, you will usually be charged with a Class A misdemeanor, and you might face up to a year in jail in addition to the repercussions of your original charges. If your initial violation was punishable by a fine, bail jumping is a Class C misdemeanor, and a conviction can result in a $500 fine. If you were previously charged with a crime, bail jumping would be prosecuted as a third-degree felony, and you might face up to ten years in prison in addition to your original felony term.
Bail Jumping in Texas Under Section 38.10
Ann. Penal Code of Texas According to 38.10(a), “a person legally released from jail, with or without bail, on the condition that he after that appear commits an offense if he fails to appear in compliance with the terms of his release.”
The following are the elements of the bail-jumping offense:
- a defendant
- freed from detention;
- conditional on reappearance;
- knowingly or unknowingly;
- fails to appear in compliance with his release terms.”
Yuncevich v. State, 626 S.W.2d 784, 785 (Tex (Tex. Crim. App. 1982).
Bail Jumping Statute of Limitations
Bail jumping has a three-year statute of limitations. See Tex. Code Crim. Proc. Ann. art. 12.01 for further information (7). The courts have ruled that limits provisions should be “liberally read in favor of rest,” as they are meant to:
limit exposure to criminal prosecution to a certain fixed period of time following the occurrence of those acts the legislature has decided to punish by criminal sanctions. Such a limitation is designed to protect individuals from having to defend themselves against charges when the basic facts may have become obscured by the passage of time and to minimize the danger of official punishment because of acts in the far-distant past. Such a time limit may also have the salutary effect of encouraging law enforcement officials promptly to investigate suspected criminal activity.
State v. Ojiaku, No. 05-13-00840-CR, 06-24-2013. THE STATE OF TEXAS, Appellant v. CHINEDU GODWIN OJIAKU, Appellee
Failure to Appear Defenses
In many of these situations, the accused will demonstrate that they did not get notice of the court date.
The courts have ruled that proof that the accused was released on an instanter bond is prima facie proof of a summons to appear. 999 S.W.2d 35, 37 (Solomon v. State) (Tex.App.-Houston [14th Dist.] 1999, no pet.). Unless the appellant can prove evidence to the contrary, the fact that the individual is on bail is sufficient to meet the prosecutor’s burden of establishing that the appellant willfully and knowingly failed to appear per the terms of the release. See id.
Suppose the person accused of failing to appear demonstrates that he or she did not receive notice. In that case, the prosecutor for the State of Texas must produce additional evidence sufficient to justify a rational factfinder in finding that the appellant received actual information or engaged in conduct designed to avoid receiving notice. 880 S.W.2d 191, 192 (Etchison v. State) (Tex.App.-Texarkana 1994, no pet.).
I was not on bond when I missed court, so how can I be charged with Bail Jump?
You do not need to be on bail at the time of the bail jump. It merely requires that you: 1. failed to appear for a scheduled court date, 2. were charged with a felony, 3. were freed by court order, and that these occurrences occurred in Washington.
I didn’t flee the country, I merely missed my court date. How may I be charged with Bail Jump?
You are not required by the bail jump legislation to escape the jurisdiction. It makes failing to appear for a court date a crime.
My bail bondsman indicated he was fine with my skipping court. Therefore, they can’t prosecute me with bail jumping.
Your bondsman has no say in whether or not you face bail jump charges. After you fail to appear in court, your bondsman determines whether to surrender you. This judgment is irrespective of whether or not bail-jumping charges are filed. The prosecutor decides whether or not you will face bail-jumping charges.
I’m going to beat the original charge at trial. Therefore, they can’t charge me with bail jumping for missing court in that instance.
Bail Jumping is a distinct offense, and being dismissed or acquitted does not relieve you of the need to appear in court. Mr. Williams successfully had his possession with intent to supply charge dismissed in State v. Williams (http://caselaw.findlaw.com/wa-supreme-court/1059791.html). However, he was convicted of bail jumping because he failed to appear in court. This conviction was affirmed by the Washington Supreme Court.
I established me quash date; I was not arrested, so how can they accuse me of bail jumping?
Unless you fulfill the statutory affirmative defense, the prosecution can prosecute you with bail jumping.
I informed my attorney that I needed to “Squash my Warrant.” My attorney gave me a funny look. What did I say incorrectly?
Although the purpose is identical, the legal term is quashed rather than squashed.