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If We Can't Bail Them Out, NO ONE CAN!

What is Bail Forfeiture?

Okay, so you or your buddy got in some trouble with the law. Now you’re hearing words like “misdemeanor” and “bondsmen” and “bail forfeiture.” That’s a lot of new vocabulary. Today we’re going to clear some of this up for you by explaining Salt Lake City Bail Forfeiture.

What is Salt Lake City Bail Forfeiture?

For most misdemeanors (a criminal offense less serious than a felony that can usually be taken care of with a fine or a short prison sentence) and non-violent crimes, the accused person can post bail. Bail is a type of security, usually money, given in exchange for the release of someone who has been arrested. This payment helps guarantee that the arrested person will show up for future court dates as their case is considered and decided. So, what is bail forfeiture you ask? Well, bail forfeiture is when the bail is released to the court without the possibility of future repayment. Basically, it means you won’t be seeing that bail money again.

Involuntary vs. Voluntary Bail Forfeiture

Bail can be released involuntarily or voluntarily. Involuntary bail forfeiture can happen when a person fails to appear at court after they have been released from custody. Unless they have a good reason for missing their scheduled court appearance, they lose their bail money. The case isn’t over yet, though. Failure to appear in court means a warrant is issued for the arrest of the defendant. With this new arrest comes a new bail amount that the defendant will need to cover in order to be released again.

Utah Bail            In some cases, a defendant can voluntarily release the bail they paid in order to cover legal fees, court costs, and other fines that come up in the course of their case. However, this money can only be used to cover court fees and fines. They cannot be applied toward payments to a victim.

Bail Forfeitable Offenses

            There are some cases where, in certain areas of the country, a bail forfeiture can be used both to gain release from custody and to close the case. In this kind of situation, the defendant posts bail and is released from custody. If they choose to appear at court, they may contest their case. Winning means the bail amount is returned to them. If they choose not to appear in court, the case is closed and the bail amount is automatically released to the court. This option is not available in all states, so you’ll want to research your local laws regarding bail forfeitable offenses.

When the Defendant Can’t Pay the Bail Amount

            It’s not uncommon for a defendant to need help posting bail. Often, funds are posted by friends or family members. If bail money is released to the court because of involuntary bail forfeiture, those who originally paid the bail will have to get paid back by the defendant. If the defendant hope to use the bail amount to cover court costs with a voluntary forfeiture, the court will need to get authorization from the person who posted the bail in the first place.

            If a defendant can’t get help from friends or family, they can also chose to hire a bail bondsman. Bail bondsmen will cover the bail amount for a fee. Usually, they get paid a certain percentage of the bail amount. If the defendant doesn’t show up at court when they’re supposed to and the funds are released involuntarily, the bondsman may sue the defendant for repayment. If this doesn’t work, the bondsmen may get permission from the court to delay forfeiture and send a bounty hunter to find the defendant and return them to custody. Not a good situation.

            If you need to post bail, whether for yourself or for a friend or family member, it’s good to understand the ins and outs of bail forfeiture. For more information about bail in different counties, please visit

Larry Nowak
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