You can be required to show up to court for any number of reasons. For example, if you received a traffic ticket, have been charged with a DUI, or have been subpoenaed to appear for a trial, then you are required to show up in court at a certain date and time. If you do not appear in court at your scheduled time, then you can be charged for failing to appear in court also know as a FTA charge. The most common FTA’s involve traffic violation charges where people forget to show up for their court date.
We are human and things do happen that could result in a legitimate reason for failing to appear. Some defenses are:
No Notice to Appear: You can fight a failure to appear in court if the court failed to give you any proper notice for you to appear in court. If your address has changed and you did not receive the notice because you did not inform the court of the change of address will not excuse your failure to appear.
Failure to Appear Was Not Willful: Your failure to appear in court was not on purpose and you did not appear in court due to a legitimate reason such as, serious accident, or illness.
What can happen if I fail to appear in court?
Failure to appear in court is a criminal offense and depending on the circumstances can result in additional fines and fees or a warrant being issued for your arrest. For example, if you sign a traffic ticket promising to appear in court at an arraignment, and do not show up, you may be guilty of a misdemeanor and a judge could issue a bench warrant for your arrest.
Once a warrant has been issued for your arrest, there are several consequences that could occur:
• If you are ever stopped by the police, a system check on your license number will alert the police that there is a warrant out for you, which will result in them arresting you.
• You may be held in jail after your arrest.
• Your license might be suspended until your case is closed and might result in you having to pay a fee to the DMV to reinstate your license.
• You may be denied bail.
• Additional charges for failure to appear in court may be added to your original charge.
When you miss a court date, DO NOT assume the case against you will disappear, or that somehow, over time, the courts will forget about you. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case.
Keep in mind that whether or not the police are actively pursuing you (and in most cases, they aren’t), you are considered a fugitive.
FTA charges do not have a statute of limitations and will remain on your record until you serve the warrant.
If you are facing a charge of failure to appear, the classification of the new charge is often directly related to the classification of the case you failed to appear on. For example, if you failed to show for a court date on a felony charge, your failure to appear charge would be another felony.
Likewise, if you were facing misdemeanor charges, the failure to appear case will also be a misdemeanor. However, the court does have grounds to serve you with prison or jail time, increase your probation or charge you with a new crime.
If you find yourself in this situation it is always best to turn yourself in rather than wait for a situation in which you find yourself in handcuffs.
This is a general article for example purposes. As always, please contact us at 979-821-2663 regarding your specific case.