Bail jumping is an activity in which someone who has been released on bail attempts to evade a court appearance with the goal of avoiding a trial, possible conviction, and sentence. Bail jumping is also known as bail skipping. When someone skips bail, she or he gives up the amount paid in bail, and a warrant will be issued for the bail jumper's arrest.
When people are released on bail, they are done so with the understanding that they will attend court on an appointed date to face trial. People are released on bail so that they do not have to sit in jail waiting trial, and to allow them to go about their daily business until the trial occurs. Usually, conditions are set with bail. In addition to paying the bail itself, the accused may be required to stay in the area, to refrain from associating with certain people, and so forth.
If someone released on bail fails to show up for a court appearance, the judge can issue a warrant for the bail jumper's arrest. Because bail is often provided by a bail bondsman who puts up the bail in exchange for the understanding that the money will be returned when the accused attends court, some regions allow bail bondsmen to hire bounty hunters in the event of a bail jumping. The bounty hunter tracks down the person who evaded bail to bring them in on the warrant in exchange for a fee.
If it becomes clear that someone is taking steps to avoid a court date, he or she can be accused of bail jumping before the actual date. For example, if someone books plane tickets out of the country with a flight scheduled to depart shortly before the scheduled court appearance, it is clear that the accused is planning on bail jumping. In cases such as these, the accused may be jailed to await trial.
Bail jumping is not in the best interests of the accused. In addition to forfeiting the amount of bail, the accused also faces additional charges for attempting to evade court. If someone wants to delay a trial or feels that a trial will not be fair in a given venue, he or she should discuss the issue with a lawyer to see if an agreement can be reached. Accused criminals are entitled to due process of law, which includes accommodations such as a change of venue if it is believed that a trial cannot be conducted fairly in the originally scheduled location.