What is a surety bond forfeiture?


Photo Credit: Kalawin

They say a man is as good as his word. In life, it is important to follow through and fulfill your promises. The same principle applies to business. For instance, if you are expected to meet your end of the deal, you should guarantee that you’ll back it up with a surety bond. In this type of contract, an “obligee” is paid if a “principal” fails to meet the terms of the contract. A surety bond can be described as a binding contract between three people: the surety, often referred to as the bondsman, the defendant, and the court.

The bail bond company often collects a 10 percent fee from the defendant and takes responsibility of the defendant to ensure he appears in court as scheduled. As the surety, the bail bond company is expected to pay the full bond amount in the event that the defendant decides to skip court. If the defendant attends all of the court appointments, the surety keeps the 10 percent fee as profit. 

However, the problem comes in when the defendant fails to show up to court as scheduled. In most cases, the court will issue a warrant of arrest immediately to bring the accused to court to answer for the charges leveled against him, including for failure to appear as scheduled. The warrant of arrest remains active until the defendant is caught or decides to surrender himself to authorities. He will now have two charges to answer for: the original crime committed and failing to appear before the judge.

If a bail bond company (surety) was used to pay the bail amount of the defendant, the company will be notified of the bond forfeiture. The court can then collect the bond amount from the surety for failure to produce the defendant in court as agreed. Once a bond has been forfeited, it becomes the asset of the jurisdiction in charge of the case. However, the court can schedule a date for a testimony hearing on the bond forfeiture. This is an opportunity for the bond company to try and locate the defendant and hopefully save the bond money from possible forfeiture. The successful arrest of the defendant on the warrant issued means his bond is likely going to be revoked. He will also be held behind bars without bond until the case is resolved because he is considered a flight risk.

The bond forfeiture hearing is also an opportunity to determine whether the defendant has a good reason to fail to show up in court. Without cause, a warrant of arrest is issued and the defendant’s property put up as collateral to obtain the bond is sold to get cash to settle the related costs upon the issuance of a bond forfeiture order. 

When arrested for a crime and the defendant is unable to pay the bail amount, he may seek the services of a bail bond company (surety) to secure the bond and possibly get out of jail. However, sometimes the defendant fails to appear in court and a bond forfeiture hearing is scheduled. If the bond company fails to locate him before the hearing date, the court keeps the bond and a warrant of arrest is issued. Therefore, surety bond forfeiture applies when a release condition has been violated despite all parties agreeing to the condition.


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