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Skipping Bail in Florida: a Risky Move With Serious Outcomes

Bail is a legal mechanism that enables those who have been charged with a crime to obtain their release from custody pending trial. Bail is usually paid with cash or via a bail bond firm that serves as the defendant’s guarantee. Ensuring the defendant’s appearance in court and avoiding the needless incarceration of people who are assumed innocent unless proven guilty are its main goals.

However, if a defendant chooses not to post bail, it is a sign that they will not be appearing in court as scheduled. There are significant dangers associated with this choice for the bail bond provider as well as the defendant. This article examines the ramifications, possible defenses, and repercussions of skipping bail.

Understanding Bail Jumping

In the state of Florida, skipping bail, often known as bail jumping or failing to appear, is illegal. According to Florida Statutes Section 843.15, a person who is freed on bond and purposefully fails to show up for a court appearance is guilty of a misdemeanor of the first degree for a misdemeanor charge or a felony of the third degree for a felony prosecution. For misdemeanors, the maximum sentence is one year in jail and a $1,000 fine; for felonies, the maximum sentence is five years in prison and a $5,000 fine.

The bond or bail money is forfeited when someone skips their scheduled appearance. This loss suggests that the defendant or the bail bond provider forfeits the money that was used to secure their release. The defendant may also be placed under arrest pending the outcome of the case if the court issues an arrest warrant.

Consequences of Skipping Bail

Not only does the criminal suffer when bail is skipped, but the bail bond firm and co-signers also suffer consequences. In addition to potential financial loss, the bail bond company—which is in charge of guaranteeing the defendant’s court appearance—may pursue legal action. To find and capture the runaway, they may hire a bounty hunter who may use coercion or fraud.

Co-signers, people who attest to the defendant’s credibility, risk collateral loss and possible legal action. It is likely that the property, vehicles, or valuables pledged to secure the bond will be lost, and that the whole bail amount, interest, and fees may also need to be paid.

Defendants who breach their bail conditions face harsh penalties. They might be charged with further offenses, which would impact their previous sentence. There could be a risk to future bail prospects, harm to one’s integrity and reputation, and loss of support from friends, family, or employment. There’s also the additional danger of being apprehended by police or bounty hunters, which may involve using force.

Possible Defenses to Skipping Bail

Defendants may present a defense despite the serious consequences of missing bail. The prosecution must demonstrate that the defendant intentionally and knowingly failed to appear. Defenses include legitimate excuses for missing court, including a medical emergency or lack of notice. Strengthening this defense is demonstrating attempts to postpone the court appearance and contact the bail bond provider and court as soon as possible.

If the defendant was freed on their own recognizance, meaning they were not subject to bond conditions, then another defense would apply. Charges for skipping bail may not apply, but there may still be repercussions, such as the issue of a warrant and the loss of the right to pretrial release.

Skipping bail is a dangerous move that can have dire consequences. When facing charges, it is advised to get legal counsel from an experienced criminal defense attorney and to abide by the terms of the bail agreement and court appearances. In the end, legal representation can help resolve the initial case by educating defendants about their rights, advocating for them in court, and engaging in negotiations with the prosecution to lessen or eliminate the consequences of violating bail.


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