Failure to Appear in Court: Consequences and What to DoComments Off on Failure to Appear in Court: Consequences and What to Do
Whether you are facing criminal charges or are attempting to contest a traffic ticket, there are certain situations where you will need to attend court to resolve a certain issue. If you miss your court date, however, you could face criminal charges and serious penalties, such as fines and potential jail time.
Life circumstances out of your control can prevent you from making it to court. If you have a legitimate reason that impacts your ability to attend this appointment, the court will listen. To avoid these consequences and protect your case, it is important to understand your legal rights and seek legal help if you cannot attend your court appointment.
What Does Failure to Appear in Court Mean?
There are many situations where you may need to appear in court. For example, you may face traffic citations or pending criminal charges and need to appear for the court to listen to your case. You may also need to testify as a witness, attend jury duty, or defend yourself in a lawsuit.
In any situation, you will receive a specified date and time that you must appear in court. It is your responsibility to attend court on this date and make arrangements to ensure you can make it. If you miss your appointed date, the court will file criminal charges against you for failure to appear.
The charges can increase if you posted bail in exchange for early release and a promise to appear in court on a certain date. You could face charges for bail jumping, which can extend a prison sentence and increase fines upon sentencing. However, you may be able defend yourself against bail jumping and failure to appear charges if you had a valid reason for missing your appointment, such as a medical emergency.
Possible Consequences of Missing a Court Hearing
Failure to appear in court can lead to serious consequences, depending on what the court appointment was actually for. The court may issue a bench warrant, which authorizes the police to arrest you and bring you to court to answer for your charges. You may also face jail time, fines, or license suspensions.
If you are facing criminal charges, posted bail, and do not appear for your court date, you can face serious consequences for bail jumping. Washington law assigns bail jumping penalties based on the criminal charges you are currently facing.
- Class A felony (except for murder): between six to 69 months in prison and a fine up to $20,000
- Class B or C felony: between one to 43 months in prison and a fine up to $10,000
- Misdemeanor: a jail sentence up to one year and a fine up to $5,000
Contact a Lawyer to Help You with a Missed Court Date
If you had a legitimate reason not to appear or you were not aware of the court date due to the fault of the court, you can defend yourself against these charges. Some common defenses to failure to appear charges include the following.
- The court failed to provide proper notice of your court date.
- You suffered a serious accident or developed an illness.
- You had a previously scheduled court appearance on the same day.
- A death in your family occurred.
- A natural disaster prevented you from attending court.
Failure to appear in court can lead to serious consequences, and you need an attorney to advocate for your best interests. To defend yourself from these penalties and build a compelling case for your side of the story, speak to a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.