The criminal process is a complicated, convoluted system. It typically starts with an investigation of some kind, perhaps a traffic stop for speeding or a 911 call reporting shots fired, progresses to an arrest based on probable cause, then criminal charges are filed and the defendant is arraigned. This is the point when the concept of bail enters the picture.
What is Bail?
Bail is money that acts as insurance between the defendant and the court. Defendants who are granted bail are given the opportunity to make a financial promise as security that, if released, they will return for further criminal proceedings, including trial and sentencing. While some states allow bail bonding for profit, Kentucky banned commercial bail bonds and bounty hunting in 1976. In place of a for-profit bail system, the Pretrial Services Agency was created to make pre-trial release recommendations to the court based on personal interviews, criminal background checks and risk assessments. The judge then chooses to either:
- Set bail in an amount that discourages the defendant from skipping out on trial o endangering the community,
- Release the defendant without bail on his or her own recognizance, or
- Keep the defendant in custody.
If bail is granted and the full amount is paid, it is returned to you when the case is finished, minus any fines or restitution if you plead guilty or are convicted at trial. If you cannot afford the full amount, IF the Court allows it you can be released by paying the court 10 percent of the bail amount in cash or by property bond. This is returned when you make good on the promise to appear in court as scheduled. In bail-for-profit systems, the bail bonds agent keeps the 10 percent plus fees.
There is no guaranteed right to a release on bail, but some amount of bail is set in almost every new case. The decision is up to the judge, based on the recommendation provided by the Pretrial Services Agency. Defendants who are charged with a less serious offense and are well established in the community, with a job, a home and family, may be deemed a minimal flight risk and released on relatively low bail.
What is Bail Jumping?
If you are granted bail and are able to post it, you are released from custody until the trial date. If you then fail to appear in a Kentucky criminal court, then a bond forfeiture hearing is scheduled – and then sometimes the bail is surrendered, a warrant for your arrest is issued, and you could be charged with bail jumping. Skipping bail is a serious offense that can be added to the charges you are already facing.
While there could be any number of reasons why you missed court, the best time to deal with a failure to appear is immediately and before you are caught. There may be excellent defenses and negotiations available for your situation. Although the opportunities to fight for a reasonable outcome are more limited if you are caught and arrested, there are arguments that an experienced lawyer can make that your failure was something you had no control over.
KY Bail Jumping Laws & Penalties
The additional charge you will face for bail jumping depends on your original charge. If the original charge is a misdemeanor, your bail jumping charge is considered to be in the second degree and will be a Class A misdemeanor. This is punishable by an additional 12 months in jail and up to $500 in fines. If the original charge is a felony, your bail jumping charge is considered to be in the first degree and will be a Class D felony, punishable by 1 to 5 years in prison. Keep in mind that even if you are found not guilty of the original charge, the bail jumping charge could be a valid one.
Get Help with a Bail Jumping Charge or Missed Criminal Court Date
The KY bail jumping lawyers at the Carman Law Firm know that if you are already facing criminal charges and then get charged further will skipping bail, you may feel frustrated and helpless. Whatever the situation, Dan Carman is dedicated to building the best possible defense for every client throughout the state, in communities such as Fayette County / Lexington, Winchester, Georgetown, and Nicholasville. Dan knows it can be hard to discuss personal matters and will do his best to make you feel comfortable. Call his office at (859) 685-1055 or fill out this online contact form and let him help you.