A summons or notice to appear is a court order. If you do not appear in court as required, you have violated that order and will likely face serious consequences that may include criminal charges, a bench warrant, and jail time.

If you missed a required court date and are unsure of what to do next, contact a Los Angeles failure to appear lawyer as soon as possible. Our trusted team at the Law Offices of Scott Henry understands that failing to appear in court may stem from a simple misunderstanding or an unanticipated event, such as an auto accident. Our defense attorneys could explain the reasons for your missed court appearance and fight to have your bench warrant cleared and work to have your charges dismissed. To get back on track after a missed court date, contact our offices today for a free consultation.

What Does Failure to Appear Mean?

If you willfully fail to appear in court as required, you can be charged with failure to appear under California Penal Code 1320a PC. Missing a court date can be charged as either a misdemeanor or felony, depending on your original charges. Penalties for a misdemeanor failure to appear conviction include up to one year in jail and fines of up to $1,000. Felony convictions carry penalties that include up to three years in state prison and fines of up to $10,000. To obtain a conviction, the prosecutor must prove that the defendant:

  • Was charged with a misdemeanor or felony offense
  • Received proper notice to appear in court
  • Willfully failed to appear in court
  • Did so to evade the process of the court

Missing a court-ordered appearance can significantly impact the future terms of your release. If you were originally released on your own recognizance, the judge might now require you to post bail. If you initially posted bail, the court could substantially increase your new bail amount. Lastly, the judge could decide not to release you from custody at all and require that you remain in jail until your next hearing. A lawyer in Los Angeles could explain what a person should expect after receiving failure to appear charges.

Defenses for Failing to Appear

Due to the potentially serious consequences of a failure to appear conviction, it is essential that your Los Angeles attorney builds a strong, persuasive defense. Strong arguments include:

  • You were seriously injured.
  • An accident prevented you from appearing in court.
  • There was an emergency you had to tend to.
  • You were in custody on an unrelated matter.
  • You were given the wrong date by the court or your attorney.

Traffic Violations and Failure to Appear

It is illegal to miss a court appearance on a traffic violation under California Vehicle Code 40508 VC.  If you miss a required court date related to a traffic offense, you can be charged with failing to appear, and the state can place an immediate hold on your driver’s license. This hold remains in place until you appear in court and pay the necessary fines. To be convicted of this violation, the prosecution must prove you received a traffic citation, signed a written promise to appear in traffic court, and willfully and intentionally failed to appear. A conviction carries harsh penalties that include up to six months in jail, fines of up to $1,000, and the suspension of your driving privileges. An attorney in Los Angeles could help you build a defense if you failed to appear in court after receiving a traffic citation.

Consult with a Los Angeles Failure to Appear Attorney Right Away

To avoid criminal charges, jail time, and a potentially embarrassing arrest, we strongly urge you to consult with a skilled Los Angeles failure to appear lawyer as soon as possible. Our leading legal team could negotiate skillfully to clear your bench warrant and have your charges dismissed. Call the Law Offices of Scott Henry today for a free consultation with one of our knowledgeable criminal defense attorneys. With our decades of legal insight, you can place your trust in our legal team, knowing you are in good hands.

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