Jeff Downer A question often arises as to whether warrants issued for failure to appear in court will expire after a certain period of time. The answer is no.
A wishful thinking defendant may hope that by failing to appear and remaining in a fugitive status for a long enough period of time will create some type of statute of limitations scenario where their case will magically disappear, and they will become immune from further prosecution on the matter.
Indiana law is quite clear on this subject. Any warrant issued for failing to appear in court (whether the case be a misdemeanor or a felony) does not come with an expiration date. The warrant will remain in effect until the defendant is returned to face the court.
IC 35-33-2-4 Expiration; reissuance Sec. 4. A warrant of arrest for a misdemeanor expires one hundred eighty (180) days after it is issued. A warrant of arrest for a felony and a rearrest warrant for any offense do not expire. A sheriff who has an expired warrant shall make a return on the warrant stating that it has expired and shall return it to the clerk of the court that issued it. The clerk shall enter the fact that the warrant has expired in his records and shall notify the prosecuting attorney of the county that the warrant has expired. Upon request of the prosecuting attorney, the court shall issue another warrant.
Failing to appear on a criminal case may buy some time on the run living as a fugitive, but it will not buy a resolution to the case.
Jeff Downer Is a defendant’s failure to appear on a criminal case considered a separate criminal offense in it’s own right? In most states and jurisdictions the answer is yes.
What this means is that not only will a failure to appear warrant be issued for current case, an entirely new criminal charge of failure to appear can be pursued against the defendant. Commonly, the seriousness of the new failure to appear charge will depend upon the charge levels in the originating case.by
In Indiana, this is how the failure to appear charge levels are determined. If the the original case consisted of misdemeanor charges then the failure to appear would be charged as a Class A misdemeanor. If the the original charges were felonies then the new failure to appear charge would be pursued as a Class D felony.
Perhaps the key takeaway here is that failing to appear not only risks incurring the ill will of the court but also running the risk facing even more criminal charges.
Jeff Downer Gerald Madrid, a New Mexico bail bondsman, was playing the flute during morning mass at St. Jude Thaddeus, a Catholic church in Northwest Albuquerque, when a man entered the church and began attacking the choir director with a knife.
Mr. Madrid immediately leapt to the defense of the director and tells his story in this CNN interview.
Jeff Downer Defendants who fail to appear (FTA) and become fugitives are a fact of life. Since the insuring a defendant’s risk of failing to appear is the basis of the commercial bail industry, posting the bail of someone who has chosen to become a fugitive and subsequently been returned to court can be problematic.
While considering the effects of bonding someone out of custody after a FTA, think of a car insurance. A car insurer assumes financial responsibility for damages caused in automobile accidents. The occurrence of car accidents is going to change the dynamics of the relationship between the car owner and the insurance company. Things are going to be different after an accident and may include:
- The cost of insurance can increase.
- The deductible may become larger
- The policy can be cancelled.
In bail bonding a FTA, like a car accident, is going to change the dynamics of the bail bondsman and defendant relationship:
- More premium may be required for a new and larger court ordered bond amount.
- Cash collateral may now be expected.
- Additional co-signers could be necessary.
- Real property could be required to secure the bail bond with a mortgage.
- Conditions such as check ins and electronic monitoring may be put in place.
- The bonding company may decline to post any further bail for the defendant.
Keep in mind the court is going to have final say in the matter and is under no obligation to let the defendant out on bond again. If the judge permits another bail bond, amounts can be increased and the court may impose additional conditions of its own.
All the above is not to say on occasions such as being hit by a bus on the way to court can’t result in the judge and the bonding company agreeing to adhere to the original bond and conditions, but it is important to remember that will take place at their option and not the defendant’s.
Jeff Downer There are those who believe there is some benefit to using someone else’s name or an alias when being arrested. The fact is that any benefit is short lived at best and creates even more long term problems in this age of extensive integrated automated fingerprint identification (IAFIS) database networks and post 9/11 diligence.
How? The most important thing to bear in mind is that within the criminal justice system, people are literally numbers, not names. These numbers are associated with fingerprints, pictures and other unique physical identifiers of the person actually arrested and become part of nationwide computer databases. Whatever alias name or names that are used simply become notations attached to those identifying numbers.
Using multiple names is no different than changing one’s hairstyle or getting a new tattoo. Besides, having more than one legitimate name is hardly unusual within the criminal justice system, consider those folks who have maiden and married names. Their identification number still doesn’t change when they marry.
Then there are the long term problems that arise with using different folk’s identities. Now the system can earmark that person as deceptive and, as such, untrustworthy. This earmark can have negative repercussions when setting bail and determination of a sentence. This stigma can remain beyond the initial instance of using an alias. Also there are the hassles which must be sorted out for any friend or family member whose name may have been used (usually by obtaining a certified document they not the individual associated with that case).
The fact is you cannot escape yourself by using an alias.
Jeff Downer When a court finds that the obligations of a bail bond are discharged and liability on the bond is released, it is called exoneration. Simply speaking, exoneration means the bail bond is no longer in effect.
In the vast majority of cases, exoneration occurs when the case is disposed of by the court. Case dispositions take the following forms:
- Finding of not guilty
- Enrollment into a diversion program
- Dismissal of all charges
There may instances of a bail bond being exonerated prior to disposition because the defendant has become a flight risk or violated conditions of release. Per Indiana Code here are the steps a bail bondsman must take to return a defendant to custody and request the court for exoneration:
Surrender of defendants; detention; exoneration of sureties
Sec. 6. (a) The person desiring to make a surrender of the defendant shall be provided a certified copy of the undertakings and a certified copy of the arrest warrant forthwith by the clerk of the court having jurisdiction and shall deliver them together with the defendant to the official in whose custody the defendant was at the time bail was taken or to the official into whose custody the defendant would have been given if committed, who shall detain the defendant in the official’s custody thereon, as upon a commitment, and shall acknowledge the surrender in a written certificate.
(b) The court having jurisdiction of the offense shall order that a surety be exonerated from liability for an undertaking and that any money or bonds deposited as bail be refunded when the person surrendering the defendant has:
(1) presented to the court both of the documents described in subsection (a); and
(2) given to the prosecuting attorney:
(A) three (3) days notice; and
(B) copies of both of the documents described in subsection (a).
As added by P.L.261-1985, SEC.1. Amended by P.L.348-1995, SEC.2.
Bear in mind that exoneration is not the same thing as a bail bond expiring after certain period of time. In situations where cases are slow moving, a bond set to expire can be renewed and the defendant allowed to remain free. Find here an explanation of bail bond expiration.
Jeff Downer When a judge determines the amount of a bail bond they often impose other conditions of release. Such conditions can, among many things, include:
- Electronic monitoring
- Drug and alcohol testing
- Substance abuse counseling
- No contact orders
Violating these conditions can and will result in the the revocation of bond and awaiting trial in jail.
Consider this incident reported in the American Bar Association Journal during a bond hearing in suburban Chicago. It seems the defendant had violated the court ordered curfew by 22 minutes. The judge increased the defendant’s bond from $2,000 to $75,000. While protesting the judge’s decision the defense attorney was found to be in contempt, eventually being held in custody and fined $1,000.
Many judges don’t play around and in this instance a seemingly innocuous case of poor time management snowballed into some major courtroom drama. The moral of this story? If you want the the judge to like you (or you want the judge to like your lawyer), read and follow directions.
Rick Springfield Arrested for Missed Court Date
There is no truth to the rumor that Mr. Springfield was apprehended in a shopping mall after being cornered by a mob of screaming and fainting women of a certain age.