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In the realm of criminal law in Washington State, RCW 10.19.140 stands out as a critical statute, particularly for sureties and defendants involved in the bail process. This law outlines the conditions under which a bond is returned to the surety in criminal cases. It’s essential for those involved in the bail process to understand the specifics of this statute, as it directly impacts the financial and legal responsibilities of sureties and defendants.

What is RCW 10.19.140?

RCW 10.19.140 is a specific law in Washington State that deals with the return of bonds in criminal cases. It provides a clear framework for when and how a bond, which has been forfeited, can be returned to the surety – typically a bail bond company or an individual who has posted bail for a defendant.

Key Provisions of the Statute

  1. Forfeiture and Return of Bond: If a forfeiture is declared against a person in a criminal case, there is still a chance for the bond to be returned.
  2. Time Frame for Return: The critical condition is that the defendant must be returned to custody or produced in court within twelve months from the date of forfeiture.
  3. Deduction of Costs: The statute allows for the deduction of costs incurred by law enforcement in the process of locating, apprehending, or transporting the defendant back to the court’s jurisdiction.
  4. Surety’s Responsibility: A crucial aspect is that the surety must be directly responsible for producing the person in court or for the apprehension of the person by law enforcement.

Implications for Sureties and Defendants

For Sureties:

  • Active Role: Sureties must take an active role in ensuring the return of the defendant to court. This may involve working with law enforcement or hiring a recovery agent.
  • Financial Stake: The return of the bond amount, minus the costs incurred, can be a significant financial relief for sureties, especially in high-bail cases.

For Defendants:

  • Understanding Bail Conditions: Defendants need to be aware that their actions directly impact the financial stake of the surety. Failing to appear in court not only leads to legal consequences but also financial burdens on the surety.
  • Time Sensitivity: The twelve-month window is crucial. Defendants and sureties must act within this period to ensure the possibility of bond remittance.
  • Legal Practitioners: Attorneys representing defendants or sureties need to be well-versed in this statute to advise their clients appropriately on the consequences of bail forfeiture and the steps to reclaim the bond.
  • Law Enforcement: Understanding this statute helps law enforcement agencies in their approach to apprehending defendants who have skipped bail.


RCW 10.19.140 provides a fair and structured approach to bond forfeiture and return in Washington State’s criminal justice system. It balances the interests of the sureties, the defendants, and the legal system by setting clear guidelines for bond remittance. Understanding this law is crucial for all parties involved in the bail process, ensuring that everyone is aware of their rights and responsibilities in the context of bond forfeiture and return.