When the system works smoothly, defendants use bail bonds to get out of jail so that they can return to work and take care of other obligations that they may have. Sometimes, however, people are bailed out and immediately return to criminal activity. This is taken very seriously by the courts and can potentially be financially disastrous for the person who bailed them out. Read on to find out what happens when someone is arrested again when they're already out on bail.

Consequences Depend on the Severity of the Crime

If a person is out on bail for a misdemeanor and gets arrested for another misdemeanor, then they simply need to be bailed out of jail again. The second bail amount may be higher than it would be under normal circumstances, but it's rare for courts to revoke bail in this instance. The person who gets bailed out will have two different court cases to contend with and two sets of court dates to attend.

When someone is arrested for a felony while out on bail, however, it's considered a much more serious matter. In most cases, bail will either be set extravagantly high—the defendant has proven they can't be trusted to be out in the community—or denied entirely. In the second case where the defendant is denied bail and detained, bail for the first arrest will be revoked.

The Court May Forfeit the Bond After Re-Arrest, and the Indemnitor May Be Responsible for Paying

Differences in state and county law influence what can happen after a bond is revoked. In some states, the bail bond agent and the indemnitor (the person who bailed the defendant out of jail) are entirely released from any further obligation regarding the case. The bond is not forfeited, and they are not required to pay the full amount of the bail money to the court.

In other states, however, the bail bond can be forfeited after someone on bail is re-arrested. This means that the bail bondsman is required to pay the bail. In practice, the indemnitor is liable for this amount—the bail bondsman can seize any collateral that was put up for the bail at this point.

While this can come as a shock to some people, it makes sense when you consider the purpose of the bail system. Most people think of bail as being a large amount of money that a defendant puts down as a way of showing they'll show up to their court dates. This is only one component of the bail system. The defendant also agrees to not commit any crimes while out on bail—being arrested is a clear violation of that. Because of this, courts sometimes see re-arrest as equivalent to not showing up for a court date.

Other Violations Can Lead to Bail Revocation, Too

Re-arrest isn't the only way bail can be revoked or forfeited. Courts sometimes place other preconditions on release when someone is bailed out of jail. If someone is arrested for domestic violence, for example, it's common for courts to specify that they can't contact their partner while they're out on bail. Violating this can lead to revocation and forfeiture of bail as well.

Thankfully, it's rare for courts to forfeit bail when people are re-arrested. However, the risk still remains. The bottom line is that it's vitally important to obey the law whenever you're out on bail. If you've bailed someone out and you're the indemnitor for the bail bond, make sure that the person you bailed out isn't engaging in any risky behavior that could lead to arrest. If you believe that they are in danger of being arrested again, contact your bail bondsman as soon as possible—you may be able to come to an agreement to surrender the bail bond and avoid the risk of bond forfeiture.