If you missed a required court date relating to a traffic ticket or criminal offense, what are the consequences? They are probably harsher than you might think. Judges do not take failing to appear in court lightly, so individuals who missed their court date often find themselves facing serious criminal charges as well as a warrant for their arrest.
Scott Henry and his legal defense team have decades of experience helping clients resolve the issues caused by missing required court appearances. We could negotiate skillfully on your behalf to clear your warrant and have your failure to appear charge resolved favorably. If you missed a court date, schedule a free consultation with one of our San Diego County failure to appear lawyers right away.
Under California Penal Code 1320a PC, it is a crime to willfully fail to appear at a required court date. This offense can be charged as either a misdemeanor or felony, depending on the defendant’s underlying charge. A misdemeanor conviction carries punishment that includes up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. A felony conviction carries harsher punishment that includes up to three years in state prison and fines up to $10,000.
While you may have a valid reason for missing your court date, the judge will likely charge you with FTA or failure to appear and issue a bench warrant for your arrest. Depending on the circumstances, you may also be looking at a suspension of your driving privileges. While a driver’s license suspension can create challenges getting to and from work or school, a bench warrant and criminal charges have much more severe consequences. A San Diego County attorney could help someone who is facing penalties for a failure to appear charge.
A bench warrant is an order from a judge to law enforcement that gives them the power to arrest you and bring you to court. They are generally issued when an individual fails to appear in court or fails to comply with a court order.
Law enforcement can arrest you at any time. You can be arrested during any encounter with a police officer, such as being pulled over for a traffic ticket. They can also pursue an arrest by coming to your home, place of business, or locating you in a public area. This can result in an embarrassing arrest in front of family, friends, coworkers, and neighbors. A lawyer in San Diego County could help with a failure to appear charge if it results in a bench warrant.
If an individual fails to appear in court for a traffic-related offense, the state can place hold on his or her driver’s license. The hold remains in place until the individual appears in court and pays their traffic fines. Typically, an additional $300 is added to the fees as a penalty for failing to appear. An FTA conviction under California Vehicle Code 40508 VC carries up to six months in jail, fines of up to $1,000, and a suspension of the motorist’s driving privileges.
To avoid the harsh consequences of a FTA charge, we recommend speaking with a San Diego failure to appear lawyer right away. Our skilled legal team at the Law Offices of Scott Henry could appear on your behalf, seek to have your bench warrant recalled, and make a persuasive argument for a charge dismissal or reduction.
For a failure to appear conviction, the prosecution must prove you willfully missed your court appearance, and you did so to evade the process of the court. Our experienced attorneys could argue that your actions do not meet these required elements of an FTA offense. For example, if you were hospitalized at the time or were injured in a car accident, then failing to appear in court was not willful. To learn more about how we can help you fight a failure to appear charge, contact the Law Offices of Scott Henry today for a free consultation.