What Happens When a Bond is Revoked or Forfeited?

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If a defendant can pay for bail, he's free to resume his life outside of jail and prepare for his court case. If the defendant acts poorly, however, the court can revoke the bail and mandate that the bond be forfeited. The defendant then has to return to jail – although he can petition for a second bond after the initial bond revocation – and the bond proceeds may or may not be returned to him.



Someone's bond may be revoked because of non-compliant behavior, such as failing to appear in court, and the court may forfeit his bond and return the defendant to jail. A bond revocation may allow the defendant's bail money to be returned to him.

Reasons for Bond Revocation

Certain behavior can trigger bail to be revoked. Three main situations commonly cause this to occur:

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  1. The defendant failing to appear for a court hearing (known as "jumping bail").
  2. The defendant committing a crime while released on bail.
  3. The defendant violating a condition of his bail, for example, by contacting other defendants or witnesses.


Who Can Revoke Bail

State rules and regulations around bond revocation vary; however, every state allows a bail bonding agent the ability to arrest the defendant or revoke bail. A bail bonding agent may do this if she feels that the defendant is a flight risk or otherwise is violating the conditions of bail.


Many states also limit the situations in which a bail bonding agent can revoke bail. For example, bail typically can't be revoked because the defendant is behind on payments to the bail company or because the indemnitor decides it doesn't want to be responsible for bail anymore.

The prosecutor can motion for bail to be revoked. In addition, the judge has the ability to revoke bail, which he may do if the defendant doesn't appear in court as instructed. When bail is revoked, the defendant has the opportunity to argue against the revocation and explain his behavior in a court hearing.



Forfeiting the Bond

If the court upholds the bail revocation, the defendant's bond will be forfeited, and the defendant returns to jail. This means that the court can seize the money or property used to make the defendant's bail. The bail guarantor also may have to pay a bail bond fee. The defendant can attempt to get released again, but the court may not approve a bond a second time if the defendant has misbehaved.


In some situations, the defendant can get his money back after the bond is forfeited. The defendant files a bail remission motion with the court, which then can decide whether or not to refund the bond. If the court decides to refund the bond, what's left of the bail after fines and costs are paid is returned to the defendant. If they decide against it, the remaining bail becomes the property of the court.



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