Failure To Appear In Court
A criminal charge of any kind will most likely result in you being given a date to appear in court before a judge. Just like a criminal charge is something to be taken seriously, a date in court is no different.You need to be making every effort to position yourself for success in a criminal case, and one of those steps is showing up to court.
Failing to appear in court should never be a consideration, as this would carry serious penalties and will land you in even more hot water with a warrant out for your arrest. Failing to appear in court can become an additional misdemeanor or felony, depending on your original criminal offense.
The failure to appear charge will most likely always mirror your original crime in determining if it is a felony or misdemeanor. Of course, life does happen in certain cases. What if you are very ill? What if you have had a death in the family? What if your baby is being born that day? What if a serious car accident has happened? These are all things that very well can happen.
It is important to understand the ramifications that can come out of not appearing in court and what to do if you don’t appear, which will be reviewed.
It is a question that a lot of criminal attorneys hear from a defendant; “What if I can’t make it to court?”. Attorneys will always say you need to make every conscious effort to be in attendance for your court date.
Not showing up carries hefty ramifications that can cost you a lot. If you do not show up in court, a warrant will be issued for your arrest. From there, you will need to post a bond and be given another court date.
If you are convicted of a felony and fail to appear in court, a failure to appear in the first-degree charge will be given. This is a serious charge that can carry a year and a half and $150,000 charge. This punishment can be lessened or increased in regards to your previous conviction record. Failure to appear for a petty offense or misdemeanor will fail to appear in the second-degree charge.
This charge can range anywhere from a class 2 misdemeanor to a class 5 felony.
Defense for Failure to Appear
The defenses for failure to appear are few and far between. It would need to be a serious life event for it to be honored. The reason it is so difficult because is because you are knowingly not appearing in court on the specified date. Also, courts will advise your court date in advance, so saying you were not informed is highly unlikely and will not hold up.
If you do not appear, a bench warrant will be issued. You must contact your lawyer and start the process of trying to quash the warrant and explain the reason why you failed to appear to avoid being arrested. It is never a good idea to wait to be arrested after the warrant is issued. You need to get ahead of this and contact the court as soon as possible.
A judge has the power to quash the bench warrant, which quashes the charge of failure to appear at the same time. A judge will be far less understanding of your reason if you do nothing and get arrested for the warrant, which is why you need to contact your lawyer right away.
What to Do If You Fail to Appear
First things first, you need to contact your lawyer and let them know of what’s happened as they will know the best course of action on how to proceed. This is a critical period of time where you need to take immediate action to avoid further trouble.
A warrant will be out for your arrest, and that means law enforcement can take you into custody anywhere they come into contact with you. This kind of charge also has the ability to follow you around and will be on your criminal record. This can also become an issue in the future with you applying for jobs or looking into housing, as it will most likely come up in a background check.
In some circumstances, your bond can be forfeited, and you could be held in jail while your case goes to court. The money that you pay in bonds may not be returned to you in some cases as well. All of these reasons go to show that taking the correct steps to notify the courts of your failure to appear will save you a lot of hardship.
Having an experienced attorney that you talk to about your circumstance improves your chances of getting the warrant quashed and getting a continuance before the court date.