Bail Jumping

Failing to Appear in Court

What is "Bail Jumping"

Bail jumping occurs when a defendant fails to appear at a scheduled court appearance. When the defendant does not show up, the Court can increase his bail or require bail if he was released on personal recognizance, order more stringent pre-trial conditions of release, revoke his bail, or ask the District Attorney’s Office to prosecute him for bail jumping.

Being charged with jumping bail is somewhat rare because the Court has so many options in dealing with a defendant who fails to appear, most of which does not require proof beyond a reasonable doubt. Should the defendant be convicted of bail jumping, any period of incarceration imposed must be served consecutively to any other sentence (this means following the completion of any sentence imposed for a conviction for the underlying crime charged). Further, an acquittal on the original criminal charge does not remove the charge of bail jumping.

For more information about bail and pretrial condition of release, see our Arraignment and Bail Conditions pages.


Elements of Bail Jumping

In order to prove a charge of bail jumping, G.L. c. 276, §82A, the prosecutors must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that:

  1. The defendant was released on either bail or personal recognizance;
  2. The defendant was aware of the date and time he was required to appear in a particular court; and,
  3. The defendant failed to make the required court appearance.

To convict a defendant charged with bail jumping, the Commonwealth need only prove that the court provided him with adequate notice of a scheduled court appearance and that he failed to respond when his case was called by the clerk.



Bail Jumping has a maximum penalty that depends on what type of charge you were facing when you did not appear in court. If you failed to appear on a misdemeanor charge, you face a fine of up to $10,000 or 1 year in the house of correction, or both. If you failed to appear on a felony charge, bail jumping has a maximum penalty of a fine of up to $50,000 or up to 5 years in prison, or both.


Defenses to Bail Jumping

A “sufficient excuse” for failing to appear at court may be enough to avoid being charged with bail jumping, or persuade a jury to acquit you of the charge. An excuse is sufficient if it rises to a certain level of seriousness that prevented you from getting to court and is not by your own doing. Sleeping through your alarm is not a sufficient excuse. Life events outside of your control would qualify as a sufficient excuse, like being in the hospital, getting into a car accident on the way to court, a close family member having a medical emergency, etc… As always, the key is to have proper documentation of any event that prevents you from appearing in court. Our Massachusetts criminal attorney knows that serious illnesses and accidents, accompanied with documentation, are usually regarded as acceptable excuses.


Free Consultation on Any Massachusetts Bail Jumping Charges

If you would like to speak about your case and get an expert opinion, please call or text us at any time at 617-723-4163, email at or use our contact form, above.  We will listen to the facts of your case, address your concerns and let you know what your options are.

The initial consultation is free and there is no pressure to hire.  If you choose to hire us, we will give you a reasonable fee agreement, including possible payment options.

Some related content...

Criminal Defense FAQ

We Hope This Helps!

As a criminal defense lawyer, the fact that you clicked this accordion drives me crazy!

NO, you shouldn't! At least not without a lawyer after careful consideration.

Think about it. The police have a job, which is to solve crimes and bring criminal charges. The only reason for them to call you is because they are looking for evidence and there is no better evidence than your statement. Very often, they are calling you because they don't have enough evidence to charge you yet and they're looking to make their case with your statements.

They are not your friends. They are not trying to help you. There is nothing to "clear up". They will not go away if you just admit it and take responsibility.

Seriously, don't speak to the police without consulting a criminal defense lawyer first. It may be that we ultimately decide to give a statement, but only if it will help your case and after careful consideration!

First, unless you have committed a very serious crime, the chances of you going to jail are minimal (especially if you hire a good attorney). In any event, this is not something that typically would happen until many months down the road.

We're not going to lie to you, if the prosecution can meet the burden of proof on your case, there will be consequences, ranging from a slap on the wrist to jail time. Our job is to minimize the consequences and to eliminate them, if possible.

Of course, this depends on the charges, your criminal history and many other factors, so please feel free to reach out and we can give you a more specific answer.

No, no, no, no no! Even if you decide to eventually take responsibility, your lawyer should negotiate the best deal possible. What this means depends entirely the circumstances of your criminal charge, but very often you can take responsibility and still avoid a permanent criminal record. It may also involve:

  • Pre-Trial Probation or Pre-Trial Diversion
  • An outright Dismissal of your charges upon payment of court costs
  • A Continuation Without a Finding, including the length and terms of your probation (after which the case is dismissed)
  • A period of straight probation without a jail or state prison sentence
  • A suspended sentence, where a sentence is imposed, but not served unless probation is violated
  • A lesser sentence to jail or prison and less severe conditions upon release

This is to say nothing of the fact that your case may be winnable on a motion to dismiss or at trial!

In many cases, yes. Some cases have issues that may justify a Motion to Suppress or a Motion to Dismiss for lack of evidence.

Others can and should be taken to trial, or call for a plea as soon as possible so the client can move on with their life.

The decision on what to do really depends on the facts of the case and your individual goals.

This is why it is important to speak to an experienced Massachusetts criminal attorney who can quickly evaluate your specific case to see if there are any issues worth pursuing.

Related Content:

Strategy and Potential Issues in Massachusetts Criminal Cases

As a criminal defense lawyer, the fact that you clicked this accordion drives me crazy!

No, do NOT talk to the police without a lawyer. They are not your friends. They are not trying to help you. They will not go away if you just admit it and take responsibility.

Their job is to gather evidence of crimes and there is no better evidence than your statement.

It may be that we ultimately decide to give a statement, but only if it will help your case and after careful consideration!

It is very possible that you can avoid a criminal record, especially if you don't have a significant criminal history and and it is a relatively minor offense.

The answer to this question is very case-specific, depending on the facts of your case and what we decide to do with it.

A vast majority of our criminal cases cases are handled on a flat fee basis, ranging from a clerk-magistrate's hearing to superior court or federal court cases.

All we can tell you is that we are always up front and honest, and will treat you fairly. We're also willing to work with you on payments if we can, as this is not all about the money.

Of course, it is prefereable to have an attorney at the arraignment, but don't panic! First, you can call or text me at any time and I may be able to be there. If not, take a look at this link for all the information you need:

Arraignment in Massachusetts – What You Need to Know.

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