Missing a required court date can have serious consequences. When you do not comply with an order to appear in court, you can be charged with failure to appear and have a warrant issued for your arrest.

If you did not appear in court and are now unsure what to do, we strongly recommend consulting with a Murrieta failure to appear lawyer right away. Our criminal defense attorneys at the Law Offices of Scott D. Henry could advocate skillfully to clear your bench warrant and resolve the matter favorably.

What is a Bench Warrant?

 A bench warrant is the most common warrant issued in this area. It is called a bench warrant because it is issued by the “bench” or judge. They are issued when someone fails to appear in court, pay a fine, or obey a court order. A bench warrant gives officers the go-ahead to locate the individual and place them in custody.

If a judge issues a bench warrant, you must have it cleared. To avoid an arrest and possible jail time, it is essential to hire an experienced attorney who can appear and advocate on your behalf to have the bench warrant recalled.

What is a Failing to Appear Charge?

Missing a required court date can have serious consequences. After failing to appear in court, the judge may issue a bench warrant in your name. This means that officers can arrest you anywhere. This includes your home, place of employment, or any public place. In addition to the bench warrant, you also can be charged with Failure to Appear under California Penal Code 1320 PC. Failure to Appear is a “wobbler” meaning it can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony.

Misdemeanor failure to appear convictions carry a sentence of a maximum of six months in jail and a fine of $1,000. Felony failure to appear convictions carry a sentence of a maximum of three years in state prison and a fine of $10,000. There are several circumstances where you may be required to appear in court. Some of these instances include:

  • Signing a written promise to appear
  • Being ordered back to court by a judge
  • Receiving a subpoena
  • Being ordered to bring certain documents to a court proceeding
  • Being required to testify in court

A Murrieta lawyer could provide guidance to someone who has been charged with failure to appear.

Defenses for Missing a Court Date in Murrieta

Many people mistakenly believe that not receiving a notice to appear in the mail is a valid defense. That is not the case. It is always your responsibility to notify the courts of an address change. There are, however, several defenses that may be appropriate for your particular case. Some of these include:

  • You failed to appear due to an emergency, such as a serious illness, accident, or natural disaster.
  • You did not intend to “evade the process of the court.”
  • You did not sign an agreement to appear in court.
  • You did not act intentionally.

If your Murrieta attorney can show you genuinely did not know you were required to appear in court and acted responsibly after the missed court date, the judge may reduce or dismiss the failure to appear charge.

Speak with a Skilled Murrieta Failure to Appear Attorney

When you miss a required court date, you risk receiving harsh consequences. These include a public arrest, jail time, a license suspension, and hefty fines. Therefore, if you did not go to court when you were required to, it is best to speak with a Murrieta failure to appear lawyer right away.

Our skilled attorneys at the Law Offices of Scott D. Henry have the experience as well as strong relationships with local prosecutors and judges that allow us to resolve these matters favorably. Contact our legal team today for a free consultation. We could review the specifics of your case and begin fighting aggressively to avoid an arrest or conviction.

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