I have a question about bail in a court case

I have an odd scenario. I get charged with breaking and entering (or whatever) and the jusge sets bail at $100,000. I pay bail and then skip the court date. I have a warrent out for my arrest. Two weeks after that I voluntarily turn myself in. Do I get the $100,000 back?

IANABB…(I Am Not A Bail Bondsman).

But if the answer is “No,” then I would wonder why bail bondsmen hire people to bring in bail-jumpers?

If the bond is forfeited, then what is the advantage of having your people haul the accused back to stand trial?

Interesting question.

Because you only have to put up 10% of the bail. The bailbondsman puts up the rest. When you show up for court, he gets the whole amount back, and keeps your 10% (or a set fee) as his payment. If you skip, he it out the whole thing. That is why they hire the big, scary dudes to find you. They are real motivated!

Does that mean if you don’t show up and the bail bondsman catches you, he get’s all of the money back?

AFAIK, yes. Plus a bounty. That’s why they call them “bounty-hunters,” after all.

…and don’t expect gentle treatment.

That leads me to more questions. 1)how big is the bounty, 2)where does the bounty come from, and 3)What about my original question? What if I vonuntariy turn myself in? What happens to the origonal money?

  1. It depends
  2. Court budget
  3. The court keeps it, and uses it to pay #2!! :smiley:

There seems to be a certain amount of confusion here.

From the beginning:

It’s possible, but by no means certain. Once the judge orders your bond forfeited, it becomes the property of the state. However, you will have at least some chance to explain yourself. Once you’ve turned yourself in, you’ll be facing not only the original charge, but also some version of a “Fail To Appear” charge, for which the court will have issued a separate charging document, usually called a show cause order or a capias. You have to answer and explain why you should not be held in contempt and punished for your failure to appear. If you can explain that on the morning of your scheduled appearance, as you were hurrying across the street to the courthouse, you were struck by a speeding Porsche, and have just spent the last two weeks unconscious in the critical care unit of the local hospital, the judge (if he believes you) can order your bond exonerated, and it will be returned to you, or re-instated to guarantee your future appearances in the original case.

There is a difference in the way a cash bail and a bail surety bond are treated.

A person or business who puts up a promised bond for another for a fee is a surety who guarantees the appearance of the accused. That bond is forfeited if the accused does not appear, and the bondsman is liable. However, if the bondsman produces the accused within a certain period of time - typically a year - of the forfeiture, the court must exonerate the forfeited bond.

When the entire amount of bail is put up in cash, there is no need of a surety. The cash itself serves to guarantee the appearance of the accused. The person who puts up the cash is not a bondsman, and if the accused does not appear, the cash bail is forfeited. If the accused is subsequently apprehended, the court has the discretion to vacate the bail forfeiture – or not.

Not quite. As is now clear from the above, the bondsman does indeed get his forfeited bond back if he produces the accused. The “bounty” comes from his payment to a bail recovery agent, a person in the employ of the bondsman. But any such fees come out of the bondsman’s pocket. Since he is on the hook to lose all his bond if the fugitive is not recovered, he is motivated to pay out at least a percentage of that money to someone who can drag the fugitive back.

In other words, bounty hunters are collection agencies with guns. Just as Citibank would perfer to get some of the money someone owes them back via a collection agency, so too will a bondsman happily give up 5-15% of the returned bail money not to lose 100% of it.


The only difference in the analogy is that the bounty hunters are collecting your body, not your money. The money is then paid by the grateful bondsman, once your body has been returned to the custody of the jail system.

As to the guns issue… bounty hunters are private citizens for purposes of gun laws. They may carry guns if local law permits them to do so, but not as a matter of course.

A side note: bounty hunters are NOT private citizens when it comes to the rights they have against you, the object of their search. The Supreme Court addressed this issue in Taylor v. Taintor, back in 1872, and said:

This law is essentially unchanged today. While the Supreme Court was enunciating the common law, most states do not vary dramatically from this proposition. Bail agents can, for the most part, arrest you at your job, break into your house, and sit on your breakfast if they choose.

What does the law say when the bail agents grab the wrong person? Let’s say they mistakenly grab John T. Public instead of John Q. Public and drag him to court. Are the bail agents liable for kidnapping? If they break into the wrong house, are they liable for the property damage?

And another question:

suppose John T and John Q Public are cousins, and very close. If the bounty hunters reasonably believe he’s in John T’s home, can they break and enter, to get John Q out?

If I kill a set of bounty hunters who are attempting to apprehend me, what charges will I rack up?
Manslaughter? Murder? One of those murder charges that’s aggravated by who I killed, as if I’d murdered a cop?
I suspect if I’m on bail, I’ll wind up with weapons charges unless I used a pointy stick to do my bounty hunters in, so we’ll grant that as a given.

The general proposition is that they must act reasonably. If it was reasonable for them to believe that they snagged John Q, when in fact they had John T, then they are generally not liable for any criminal charges.

This is true for the police, also. If they make a reasonable mistake in arresting the wrong guy, they are not going to be liable either.


While the law generally (again, states may vary here) permits the bail agent to arrest his quarry anywhere in the state, it doesn’t follow that they may break into the homes of a third party. Their ability to break into John Q’s home arises from their contract with him, and their legal ability to recover their bond by seizing him. But that same reasoning doesn’t extend to John T’s home. To conclude otherwise would be to eviscerate John T’s rights based on a contract to which he never assented.

Bail agents are not generally covered under the term “law enforcement,” so as a general proposition I doubt you’d be facing any kind of enhancement as you would for the death of a bona fide police officer. Again, individual states may avry.

The general charge you’d face would depend on the facts of the case. If you were surprised at night by bail agents, and, in a panic, you shoot one, you are certainly not guilty of first degree murder. If you lie in wait with a sniper rifle after carefully leaving clues as to your location, and pick them off as they approach your front gate, then you likely ARE guilty of first degree murder.

In other words, what you’re guilty of would depend entirely on the facts of the specific case.