If a defendant is being charged with a crime, and should be imprisoned while he or she waits for the judicial proceeding, this defendant can request bail from the court. Usually, the court will set up an amount of money as bond and certain conditions which the defendant must satisfy. If the defendant could pay the bond, and agree to follow the conditions, the defendant can be bailed out. The bond money is going to be returned back to the defendant if the defendant appeared to the next judicial proceeding, and did not violate the conditions. However, if the defendant fails to appear, or the defendant violates the conditions, the defendant jumps bail. The latter situation, where the defendant only violates the conditions, it can also be called “violating a bond”.
For example, if a defendant is being charged with DUI (drive under the influence), the defendant not only needs to pay for the bond, but also needs to stay sober until the hearing. If the defendant fails to appear in the hearing, or fails to remain entire sobriety during the bail, the defendant jumps bail.
Usually, the result of bail jumping leads to the forfeiture of the bond. But sometimes bail jumping can be a crime itself. That means, if a defendant jumps bail, he or she can be facing the original crime he or she is charged with, as well as the crime of jumping bail.
Bail jumping can be a misdemeanor or a felony. In Wisconsin (Wis. Stat. § 946.49), if the defendant is being charged with a misdemeanor, then jumping bail will be a misdemeanor. If the defendant is being charged with a felony, jumping bail will be a felony. In Texas (Tex. Penal Code § 38.10), if the defendant jumps bail, he or she will usually be charged with a misdemeanor for the jumping. But if the defendant is already charged with a third degree felony, the bail jumping will be a felony.
Jumping bail charges can also be defeated. If the defendant can prove that jumping bail was because of improper notice of the hearing, or that the defendant was seriously ill during the hearing, the court may allow the excuse of bail jumping defeat the charges.
[Last updated in July of 2020 by the Wex Definitions Team]