If you are required to appear in court, it is in your best interests to do so. California Penal Code 1320 PC states that if you willfully miss your court date, you can be charged with failure to appear (FTA). If you did not appear in court, the judge could issue a warrant out for your arrest. This means that law enforcement could then arrest you at your home, workplace, or any public place, which can cause considerable embarrassment and affect your reputation in the community. If you missed your court appearance, it is crucial to speak with an Anaheim failure to appear lawyer as soon as possible. One of our skilled criminal defense attorneys at The Law Office of Scott D. Henry could appear before the judge to effectively defend the charge and seek to have it dismissed.

What Does Failure to Appear Mean?

If you have been issued a traffic ticket or charged with a crime, you likely will be ordered to appear in court. If you do not appear as required, you can be charged with FTA or failure to appear. FTA can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony, depending on your initial charge.

You are legally required to appear in court when you give a written promise to appear, receive or are subject to, a subpoena, or a judge orders you back to court. Subpoenas are issued when you are required to appear in court to testify, or you must appear in court to bring certain documents to a court proceeding. To be convicted of a failure to appear charge, the prosecution must prove:

  • You were charged or convicted in California.
  • You were released from custody by posting bail or on your own recognizance.
  • You willfully failed to appear in court as required.
  • You intentionally failed to appear to “evade the process of the court.”

Penalties for Missing a Court Date in Anaheim

State law describes that it is unlawful not to appear in court if ordered to do so. If you fail to make a court appearance, you could be charged with failure to appear or contempt of court. These crimes can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony, depending on your original charge. The penalties if convicted include up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000 for a misdemeanor.

For a felony failure to appear charge, someone may face up to three years in prison and a maximum fine of $5,000 if they were previously released on their own recognizance, or $10,000 if they were previously released by posting bail. If you failed to appear for a traffic violation, such as DUI, speeding, or reckless driving, your driver’s license may be suspended.

Additionally, if you initially were not required to post bail, the judge could change the conditions of your release and require you to post bail after a failure to appear. If you were previously required to post bail, the judge could increase the bail amount. It is also within the judge’s power to order you to remain in jail until your next hearing. A skilled attorney in Anaheim could help you minimize the potential penalties if you have been charged with failure to appear. 

Defenses for Failure to Appear in Anaheim

Most individuals believe that not receiving a notice to appear in the mail is a valid defense. Unfortunately, that is not true. It is your responsibility to provide the court with a valid address. If you moved and did not inform the court, it will not excuse your failure to appear. If circumstances beyond your control prevented you from appearing in court, you might have a valid defense. Some examples are serious illness, natural disaster, or an accident. An Anaheim lawyer could help someone prepare their defense if they have been charged with failure to appear.

Speak with a Leading Anaheim Failure to Appear Attorney Today

Failing to appear in court as ordered is a serious matter. It can result in a warrant, substantial fines, bond revocation, and jail time. If you missed your court appearance and are unsure what to do, it is best to speak with a skilled Anaheim failure to appear lawyer immediately. Our team of highly-regarded attorneys at The Law Office of Scott D. Henry has over 40 years of combined experience representing clients facing these charges. Contact our office today for a free consultation. We could discuss your charges, explain your legal rights and options, and determine how to best move forward toward a successful resolution.

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