California Penal Code 1320 PC states that if you willfully miss a required court date, you can be charged with “failure to appear.” If you failed to appear in court, the judge could issue a warrant out for your arrest. Law enforcement can then arrest you at your home, workplace, or any public place, which can affect your personal and professional reputation. If you missed your court date, it is best to contact a Riverside failure to appear lawyer right away. Scott D. Henry and his criminal defense team could appear before the judge to skillfully defend the charge and seek to have it dismissed entirely.

What Does Failure to Appear Mean?

If you are charged with a crime or issued a traffic violation ticket, you may be ordered to appear in court. Depending on the charge, you may be required to appear multiple times. If you do not appear as ordered by the court, you can be charged with failure to appear (FTA). It can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony, depending on what your initial charges were. To be convicted of a failure to appear charge, the prosecution would need to prove:

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

An experienced attorney in Riverside could help you prepare a defense if you failed to appear in court.

When am I Legally Required to Appear in Court?

There are a few reasons why you may be required to appear in court. You are legally required to appear when:

  • You sign a written promise to appear
  • You have received a subpoena
  • A judge has ordered you back to court

Subpoenas are typically 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.

Penalties for Failure to Appear

Failure to appear can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony, depending on what your original charges or reason for your court appearance. Therefore, the penalties for missing your court date vary depending on the case. The penalties for a misdemeanor failure to appear charge are up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. For felony failure to appear you could face up to three years in prison and either a maximum fine of $5,000 if you were previously released on your own recognizance, and $10,000 if you were previously released on bail.

If you missed your court date for a traffic violation, such as speeding, driving without insurance, or DUI, you face an additional penalty of having your license suspended. 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 previously were required to post bail, the judge could increase the bail amount. It is also within the judge’s power to require you to stay in jail until your next hearing. A lawyer in Riverside could help someone minimize the potential consequences you may be facing for a failure to appear.

Speak with a Leading Riverside Failure to Appear Attorney

When required, failing to appear in court could result in a warrant, substantial fines, bond revocation, and time in jail or prison. If you missed your court date and are now unsure what to do, it is best to speak with a leading Riverside failure to appear lawyer right away. Our team of skilled attorneys at The Law Office of Scott D. Henry have a proven track record of representing clients facing these charges. Contact our office today for a free consultation. One of our seasoned attorneys could review the charge, advise you of your rights and possible outcomes, and determine the best strategy in moving forward.

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