Our justice system presumes that people accused of crimes are innocent until proven guilty. It is up to prosecutors to establish guilt, and defense attorneys to maintain innocence. All this establishing and maintaining takes place at a hearing before a judge and jury of your peers. But there are a few steps that happen before a person gets to this point. Typically only people who have been arrested, taken to jail, and bailed out are the ones who are standing trial in this manner. To incarcerate people indefinitely without a hearing before their peers is one of the fundamental freedoms the United States was founded upon. Given the amount of time that can go by between when a person is arrested and when the trial takes place often borders on being obnoxiously long. Thus to keep people in their cells while they await their day in court, aside from being illegal, would constitute a form of cruel and unusual punishment. Hence we issue bail bonds to get people out of confinement until the day they are either found innocent or guilty.

But what is to stop those released from jail from not showing up for their hearing and instead leaving for some exotic location, far from the reach of the law. For one thing, such things are considered to be highly suspicious behavior. Further, in order to post bail, an individual or agent puts up as collateral either money or an equivalent value in property for that person’s temporary release. If the accused do not then appear for their hearing, that bail is forfeited. Since loved ones or relatives sometimes are the ones to post bond, the stigma of skipping out on your friends or family often acts as a powerful influence in keeping the bonded in the vicinity. This is not always the powerful influence we might hope, but it does work in many cases.

The other type of person who typically puts up bonds for the accused is bail bonds agent. When a person then leaves the area, that original bond then becomes a bounty on your head that they are within their legal rights to collect. The way the obtain that bounty is by collecting the accused criminal attempting to abscond. These are not people with which to trifle. If you are familiar with the show Dog the Bounty Hunter, then you get the idea. Not all bail bonds agents are muscle bound and blonde, but they do have the authority to bring you back to justice, forcibly if necessary. Dealing with the possibility of serving extensive prison time is daunting enough without adding to it the “adventure” of attempting to elude professional bail bondsmen/bounty hunters, not to mention that such schemes are usually spectacularly unsuccessful. The better move is to honor the token of security put forward in your name to keep you from added discomfort. If you are innocent, it will be a step in clearing your name. If you are guilty, you are only delaying the inevitable.