What To Do If The Defendant Doesn't Show Up For Court

One of the primary conditions of being let out on bail is the defendant must show up for his or her court appointments. If you bail someone out of jail and the person fails to appear in court as agreed, you will lose any money you paid or be held liable for repaying the bondsman if you contracted with one to get the defendant released. Here's what you need to do to if the defendant fails to show up for court.

Notify the Attorney Immediately

If you know where the defendant is and the person has a good excuse for not showing up, notify the attorney immediately. The court will typically accept a limited number of excuses for the defendant's failure to appear and reschedule the appointment for another time without the usual consequences. However, the attorney must know what's going on if he or she is to effectively appeal to the court.

For instance, if the person was in an auto accident and taken to the hospital, the attorney can argue the defendant missed the appointment due to circumstances beyond his or her control. As long as the person can provide proof of the incident (e.g. medical records), the court will dismiss any charges and allow the case to proceed as normal.

It's important to note that the defendant may be required to surrender his or herself to the police within a specified period of time to avoid the legal consequences of not showing up. In Minnesota, for instance, defendants charged with felonies must surrender themselves within 48 hours of failing to appear; otherwise, they will be charged with bail jumping.

Attempt to Locate the Defendant

Even if you don't know where the defendant is, contact the attorney and explain the situation. The attorney may be able to buy you some time, which you can use to locate the person and get him or her to surrender to police to avoid being hit with additional charges and bail forfeiture.

Check all the places the person normally hangs out and talk to his or her friends and family members. While these people may not know where the defendant is, they could offer clues as to where the individual may have gone.

Use any technology available to you. For instance, FitBit trackers have built-in GPS. If you know the defendant wears one and have access to the person's account, you can see where they've been. Some auto insurance companies have devices that track customers' driving habits that also provide GPS information, which may help you determine where the person is.

It's important to only access these accounts if you have permission to do so or know someone who does (e.g. the defendant's spouse). Illegally accessing someone's account can land you in a lot of legal hot water, both criminally and civilly. However, you can notify the police and attorney about the accounts, who can then obtain court orders to access them and help with the search.

Cooperate with Police and the Bail Company

Depending on what the defendant is charged with, the police may actively look for the person. The bail company will also conduct a search, because it wants to avoid losing money if the court forfeits the bond it paid. It's in your best interests to cooperate with both agencies as much as you can.

These people typically have more resources available to them and may have better luck locating the defendant. The sooner the defendant is found and brought to court, the better the chance you won't lose your money or have to pay the bail bond company for its losses.

For more information about this issue or help bailing someone out of jail, contact a bail company, such as Absolute Bail Bonds.