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If you’ve ever been arrested, you’ve most likely come across the concept of a bail bond, and if you’ve ever had to look for bail bonds in Allegheny County, you probably heard about bail forfeiture. The process leading to bail forfeiture starts the minute you get arrested, and many defendants find themselves in a situation they know little to nothing about. It’s vital for all parties involved in the bail bond process to understand what bail forfeiture is and what occurs after your bail becomes fortified. 

What is a Bail Forfeiture?

A bail forfeiture occurs when the bail security collected is released to the court and cannot be returned or repaid. A conditional security is submitted to the court during the bail process and is only released if a few criteria are met. Like a security deposit on a hotel or car rental, if those criteria are not reached, the security is kept by the receiving party (the court). 

Voluntary vs. Involuntary Bail Forfeiture

Most bail forfeitures are involuntary and usually happen in instances where the defendant fails to show up to court after being released from custody. After this, the security is released to the court, and there is a warrant issued for the arrest of the individual, in which they will have another bail amount set if they want to forgo custody for this new arrest. 

Voluntary bail forfeitures are rare but usually occur if the individual is looking to cover court costs and fees. Voluntary bail forfeitures cannot cover payments to victims but do offer a way to navigate financial issues. For certain offenses, you might consider going the voluntary route as a way to plead guilty to a smaller charge, but keep in mind that this stays on your record, and a bail bondsman may refuse you in the future. 

In most cases, the money won’t be returned to the bail bonds company or the defendant. However, if you can prove that you missed your scheduled court date for an acceptable reason — such as a hospital visit or being arrested in another location — the judge might rule that as a sufficient reason and void the forfeiture order.

Additional Options

In some states, you can use bail forfeiture to close your case. In this situation, the defendant is released on bail and decides whether to attend their court date. The process occurs as it usually does if they attend, with the defendant arguing their case in front of the judge. If the defendant misses the court date, their bond is collected, and the case gets dropped. Be sure to research state laws or contact an attorney or other legal professional if you go this route. 

Avoid a Bond Forfeiture With Freedom Fast Bail Bonds

Bond forfeiture is a complicated process, and you want to avoid them as best you can. Not only does it risk your financial future, but it makes you look bad to the court. If you’re still unsure and want to learn more about bond forfeitures, need bail bonds for domestic violence charges or other charges, or if you need assistance in navigating the legal processes involved, contact Freedom Fast Bail Bonds —the best bail bondsmen in the Pittsburgh area— today!