Millions in Forfeited Bail Uncollected in Texas’ Tarrant County


When police in 2003 busted a Texas man accused of dealing cocaine, a judge set his bond at $100,000. An attorney posted the bond, but the man jumped bail and years after the drug bust is nowhere to be found, reports the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram. The attorney didn’t pay the $100,000. He hasn’t yet paid a penny. The bond forfeiture went into a kind of legal thicket, eliminating a big incentive for bond agents to track the suspect down.

The Star-Telegram found that in the past three years, hundreds of bond forfeitures, for some of the worst criminal offenses, have been delayed, dismissed, or settled for a small fraction of the amount. District Attorney Joe Shannon said, “The vast, vast majority of them comply, the vast majority of them show up, the vast majority of them deal with the judicial system as it comes along.” Critics question the effectiveness of the county’s criminal justice system when forfeitures amounting to millions of dollars go uncollected. “If the bondsman never has to pay a penalty, then what is the point of having bail bonds?” said Mark Holtschneider of Lexington National, a Maryland-based bail bond surety company. “The forfeiture must be enforced.”

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