If you missed a court appearance, you likely will be charged with failure to appear, and a judge may issue a bench warrant for your arrest. This means that law enforcement officers can arrest you anywhere – at your home, place of employment, or any public place in your community.

If you missed a court-ordered appearance, we strongly urge you to contact a Moreno Valley failure to appear lawyer as soon as possible. Our criminal defense attorneys at the Law Offices of Scott Henry could working tirelessly to have your warrant cleared and negotiate skillfully to have your charge reduced or dismissed entirely.

What Does Failure to Appear Mean?

Under California Penal Code 1320a PC, it is a crime to willfully fail to appear in court when required to do so. Failure to appear (FTA) can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony, depending on the underlying charge. If you were initially charged with a misdemeanor, your failure to appear charge would also be a misdemeanor, and if the underlying charge was a felony, you would face a felony FTA charge. Penalties for a misdemeanor failure to appear conviction include a jail sentence of up to one year and a maximum fine of $1,000. Felony convictions carry penalties that include either one year in jail or up to three years in state prison, and a fine of up to $10,000.

To be convicted of an FTA charge, the court must determine you received proper notice to appear and that you willfully missed your required court date. Suppose you did not receive proper notification or circumstances beyond your control, such as a serious illness, accident, or natural disaster, prevented you from appearing. In that case, you could not be found guilty of this charge. A lawyer in Moreno Valley could explain your failure to appear charges and determine how to defend you against them. 

Can a Failure to Appear Conviction be Expunged?

A defendant can typically have a failure to appear conviction expunged in the state of California. Under California Penal Code 1203.4, an expungement releases the defendant from all “penalties and disabilities” resulting from the conviction. Perhaps the most crucial benefit of having a conviction expunged is the ability to answer “No” when asked if they have ever been convicted of a crime. Potential employers and landlords cannot inquire about an expunged conviction or hold it against the applicant when determining employment or housing eligibility. An individual can typically have their conviction expunged if they:

  • Completed all of the terms of their probation
  • Were not sentenced to time in state prison
  • Are not currently charged with a crime, on probation for a criminal offense, or serving a sentence for a criminal conviction.

Failing to Appear on a Traffic Violation

California Vehicle Code 40508 VC makes it a crime to fail to appear in court on a traffic violation. If an individual fails to appear for a traffic offense, the state can place an immediate hold on his or her driver’s license. This hold remains in place until the motorist appears in court and pays the fines. If an individual is convicted of a 40508 VC violation, it can result in penalties that include:

  • Up to six months in jail
  • A fine of up to $1,000
  • Suspension of your driver’s license

To be convicted of this charge, the prosecution must prove the defendant received a traffic citation, signed a written promise to appear, and willfully and intentionally failed to appear. A Moreno Valley attorney could prepare a defense for someone who has been charged with failing to appear on a traffic violation.

Talk to an Experienced Moreno Valley Failure to Appear Attorney

At the Law Offices of Scott Henry, we understand that a simple mistake or genuine misunderstanding can lead to missing a required court date.

If you missed a court appearance and are unsure what to do to resolve the issue, we recommend contacting our Moreno Valley failure to appear lawyers right away. Time is of the essence in these matters. The court may have already charged you with failing to appear and issued a bench warrant for your arrest. Our skilled attorneys could advocate skillfully on your behalf to have your warrant recalled and your charges reduced or dismissed. Contact us today for a free consultation so we can begin fighting diligently to get you the best possible resolution.

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