When a defendant who's released on bail fails to show up for a scheduled court appearance, one of the consequences is the person who paid or secured the bond for the individual loses that money. If you worked with bail bondsman to free your loved one, this usually means the company will initiate collection procedures to either locate the defendant or obtain the money (or equivalent collateral) from you to prevent or cover its potential losses. However, it is possible to thwart the forfeiture of funds or contest it and get your money back if it's already been taken. Here's what you need to know.
Bail Forfeiture Procedure
In Nevada, after it becomes apparent the defendant is not going to show up for his or her court appointment, two things happen: the court typically issues a bench warrant within 45 days after the no show, and the person who paid the bail or the bail bond company is notified within 20 days of the impending forfeiture of the money. Starting from the date of notification, the guarantor has 180 days to either produce the defendant, submit a request to extend the date of the forfeiture, or provide a compelling reason for the defendant's previous and/or continued absence.
If the guarantor fails to do any of those things within the time period, the court will forfeit the bond.
Preventing Bond Forfeiture
There are a couple of ways to prevent the bail from being forfeited. The first is to produce the defendant. The person will usually have to provide a reason for missing his or her court date. If the court accepts the defendant's explanation, then it will usually vacate the forfeiture case. Some reasons the court may find acceptable include:
- Physiological illness
- Insanity or mental incompetence
- Being taken into custody by civil or military authorities
- Being deported out of the country
- Court errors (e.g. the defendant was given the wrong date)
- Severe weather events (e.g. flash flooding)
In each of these cases, the court requires the guarantor to have not known or had reason to know about or anticipate the defendant's excuse for not showing up. For instance, if you knew the person would be deported prior to the hearing, the court may allow the forfeiture procedure to continue because you should have notified the court of this issue so arrangements could have been made to prevent this from happening.
If you are not able to get the defendant to court, then the other way to prevent forfeiture is to submit a court motion detailing why the person wasn't able to show up. In this case, the only reasons the court will accept for the defendant's failure to show are:
- Detainment by other civil and military authorities
You'll need to submit evidence backing up your claim (e.g. provide the court with a death certificate to prove the defendant has passed away). As long as you didn't cause the person's absence from court or aided the individual in skipping the hearing, then the forfeiture procedure will usually end upon acceptance of the petition.
Getting Your Money Back
Even if the bail is ultimately forfeited, it may be possible to get some or all of that money back. You must submit a bail remission petition to the court to set aside the forfeiture based on one or more of the reasons listed in the previous section. The caveat here is that these events must have occurred before the forfeiture date passed and you didn't know (or not reasonably should have known) those events would occur. You must also apply for the refund within one year after the court ordered the bail to be forfeited.
For more information about bail forfeiture or assistance with bailing a loved one out of jail, contact a bail bonds company, such as All Star Bail Bonds.