Three Tips For Making Sure The Defendant Shows Up To Court

When you bail someone out of jail, you are incurring some responsibility for ensuring the person shows up for his or her court appointments. If the person fails to appear, any money or assets you gave the court will be forfeited or you would be required to repay any money the bondsman lost if you went through a bail bond company. To avoid the serious consequences associated with having a defendant jump bail, here are three things you can do to ensure the person shows up in court.

Stay on Top of Court Dates

One common reason defendants don't show up in court is because they don't know what their court dates are. Though judges typically assign the date in the courtroom and defendants are mailed notices confirming the dates, it's not unusual for people to forget the information or lose the courthouse letter. Alternatively, sometimes the court will change the defendant's hearing or trial date and—for one reason or another—the defendant doesn't receive notice of this.

You can reduce the risk of this occurring by regularly checking in with the courthouse and confirming the defendant's court date. Most states have websites where people can log on and view their case dates, which you can find by doing a search online. To access the information, you'll need to know the case number and the defendant's name and/or Social Security number.

Make note of the date in places the defendant can't overlook. For instance, program the date and reminders into his or her phone. Write the date on a calendar or put a note on the refrigerator. Do what you can to prevent the defendant from forgetting.

Put Money Aside for Transportation

Another reason why defendants miss their court dates is because they lack transportation. Their vehicles break down, public transportation isn't available, or they can't convince friends or family members to give them a ride to the courthouse.

Sometimes the court will accept this excuse and allow defendants to reschedule their hearing dates, but not always. In many cases, the judge will simply issue a bench warrant and forfeit the bail, especially if the person has previously missed court dates.

It's important to develop an alternative plan for the defendant to get to court just in case something happens to his or her regular mode of transportation. For instance, set aside money to hire a taxi or ridesharing service if that what's needed and program the number for the alternate transportation into the person's phone.

On the day of the hearing, keep in contact with the defendant to ensure the person makes it to the courthouse. If there are delays or the defendant absolutely can't get there, immediately call the court to notify the clerk of the issue and see if you can get the case rescheduled.

Add Tracking Devices

A third and somewhat extreme option is to literally keep tabs on the defendant's movements by installing a tracking device on their phone and/or vehicle. This way, if the defendant fails to show up to court, you can use GPS to determine where the person is. It'll make it easier for the police or bail bondsman to apprehend the person if they really are trying to jump bail by leaving town.

However, it's important to check your local laws about using devices to track other people's movements. You may be required to get the person's permission before downloading software to his or her phone or low-jacking a vehicle the person owns.

For more tips on making sure a defendant shows up for court or help baling someone out of jail, contact a local bail bondsman or check out the site.