What is bail jumping?
Bail Jumping. Under Massachusetts’s law, a defendant failing to appear in court after released on bail is committing a crime.
Massachusetts law specifically states that:
“A person who is released by court order or other lawful authority on bail recognizance on condition that he [or she] will appear personally at a specified time and place and who fails without sufficient excuse to so appear will be punished…”
In other words, if released by:
- Court order
- Other lawful authority
…on bail recognizance on the condition that he or she will appear personally at a specific time and place.
How does the government prove that I jumped bail?
In order to prove a defendant GUILTY of the legal offense of jumping bail, the Commonwealth must prove the following three elements of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt:
- The defendant released on bail or personal recognizance by a judge or bail magistrate
- The defendant aware of a particular date and time required to appear
- That the defendant failed to appear in court as required
Note that since failure to appear is a separate criminal offense.
What is personal recognizance?
“Personal recognizance” is when a person releases someone on his own promise to appear, without having to post any money or a bond to guarantee appearance.
What if I have a real excuse for not being in court?
In court, a defendant can provide evidence that he or she DID have sufficient excuse for failing to appear in court as required. If this happens, before the jury can find the defendant guilty of the offense in question, the Commonwealth must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant did NOT have sufficient excuse for his or her failure to appear.
In order to demonstrate this, the Commonwealth must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant’s absence was deliberate or willful. If the defendant intended to be present in court, but was unable to do so, then the defendant must be found NOT GUILTY.
What are real excuses?
An accident, an illness, or something similar would be sufficient excuses, but the range of potential situations is very broad. Jurors therefore must evaluate any suggested excuse in all the relevant circumstances of the case in question.
Insufficient excuses include that a person was afraid of the possible outcome of a trial or sought to escape punishment.
Remember that the defendant is NOT guilty unless the Commonwealth proves beyond a reasonable doubt that:
- The defendant released on bail or personal recognizance
- Knew required to appear in court on that date and time
- Failed to appear in court on that date and time
- Deliberately failed to do so
Also remember that the defendant has the burden of producing some evidence of a sufficient excuse before the Commonwealth would become obligated to shoulder the burden of negating that excuse by proof beyond a reasonable doubt.
IF YOU OR A LOVED ONE HAVE BEEN CHARGED WITH BAIL JUMPING, AND YOU NEED AN EXPERIENCED CRIMINAL DEFENSE LAWYER WORKING ON YOUR SIDE TO PROTECT YOUR RIGHTS, PLEASE CONTACT CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY WILLIAM J. BARABINO.
CALL 781-393-5900 TO LEARN MORE ABOUT YOUR AVAILABLE DEFENSES.