What is Bail Revocation?

Bail revocation is when a defendant who has been released on bail, does something to violate the terms or conditions and is ordered to return to jail until the date of the trial.  There could be several reasons for revocation:

  • Failure to appear.  If the defendant missed a court appearance or “skipped”.

  • Committed a crime while on bail.  A conviction for that crime is not needed for revocation.

  • Violation of bail conditions.  When bail is set, there could be conditions set such as staying away from the victim, no contact with known criminals, or completion of drug or alcohol programs.

If the defendant violates conditions of bail, skips, or commits another crime, he is brought before a judge who will decide in a hearing whether or not to revoke bail.  It is not a full trial and the judge may decide to impose more conditions rather than resort to revocation, but it is generally assumed that if the defendant refused to follow the terms initially, that he will continue to do so.

Bail revocation could result in bond forfeiture, fines, and more prison time which would not be served concurrently but instead at the end of the prison time already given.  Although requirements for bail revocation between federal and state are the same, state laws can vary on the burden of proof standards.

Once bail has been revoked, the bond is forfeited.  The bail bond agent is notified.  If the defendant has missed court, the bondsman is usually given a specified amount of time to find and bring the defendant in before the collateral is forfeited.  In some cases, the court will accept mitigating factors such as illness and not go through with the forfeiture.

Under some circumstances, if a bond has been forfeited, it may be “remitted” or reinstated so that, in part or in whole, the indemnitor hasn’t lost the collateral.  A judge will decide if the judgment of  forfeiture is to be set aside if:

  • The defendant didn’t realize he was in violation of the bail conditions.

  • There were no costs to the  court in locating the defendant.

  • The defendant didn’t willingly violate the bail conditions.

  • There was no damage to the government due to the violation.

The prosecutor can file a motion to revoke bail, as can a bail bondsman if he or she suspects that the defendant will flee or is committing new crimes, however, there must be some proof of violations or risk of flight, not just a “feeling”.

If you’re out on bail, make sure that you thoroughly understand the conditions of your bail.  The court will explain them, and your bail bondsman will be happy to make them clear for you as well.  Make sure you know when all of your court appearances are and get there early.  Your bail bondsman will let you know when you need to appear so you don’t miss any, and in some cases, may even give you a ride!  And it should go without saying, don’t commit any crimes.  Just because you’re out on bail, it doesn’t mean you’re going to stay there.