If you have recently missed a required court date, we strongly recommend consulting with our leading Temecula failure to appear lawyers immediately. Missing a court appearance can have harsh consequences, including being charged with failure to appear (FTA), having a bench warrant issued for your arrest, and in certain cases, having your driving privileges suspended.

Fortunately, our seasoned team of criminal defense attorneys could help to resolve these matters favorably. We know precisely how failure to appear charges and bench warrants are handled at the Southwest Justice Center. That is why we are able to represent our clients effectively to obtain the best possible outcome.

What is a Bench Warrant?

Unlike an arrest warrant, a bench warrant is not issued due to suspected criminal activity. They are typically issued for:

  • Failing to appear in court
  • Failing to pay a fine
  • Failing to obey any other court order

Bench warrants do not expire. Unless the judge recalls the warrant, it will remain in effect indefinitely. Fortunately, our skilled bench warrant attorneys in Temecula can go before the judge and strongly advocate to have your bench warrant recalled and cleared if you failed to appear in court.

What are the Consequences for a Failure to Appear Charge?

The penalties for a failure to appear conviction depend on the initial charge or conviction. If you were originally charged with or convicted of a misdemeanor, your FTA charge would also be a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail and a possible fine of $1,000. If the initial charge or conviction was a felony, your failure to appear would also be a felony, carrying penalties of a maximum fine of $10,000, and a jail sentence of up to one year or a state prison sentence of up to three years. A lawyer in Temecula could help someone who failed to appear in court minimize the potential penalties of this charge.

Bond Revocation

Another serious consequence of missing a court appearance is a bond revocation or a change in the condition of an individual’s release. If the defendant was initially released on their own recognizance, the judge can change the conditions and require the individual to post bail. If they were previously required to post bail, the judge could significantly increase the new bail amount. It is also important to note that the judge can decide not to release the defendant from custody and order them to remain in jail until their next court appearance.

How Can a Failure to Appear Charge Affect Immigration Status?

Generally, a conviction under Penal Code 1320 PC does not negatively impact a defendant’s immigration status. Under U.S. immigration law, certain criminal convictions can lead to deportation. Some examples include:

  • Crimes of moral turpitude
  • Drug offenses
  • Aggravated felonies
  • Firearms crimes
  • Domestic violence offenses

Failure to appear offenses do not fall under any of these categories; however, if the underlying charge does, the defendant may face immigration consequences.

Legal Defenses for Failing to Appear

To be convicted of an FTA charge, the prosecution must prove the defendant willfully failed to appear in an attempt to “evade the process of the court.” If the individual did not receive proper notice to appear or circumstances beyond their control prevented them from appearing in court, they did not violate 1320 PC. Circumstances beyond one’s control include an accident, natural disaster, or serious illness.

The court is required to notify an individual of a notice to appear. However, it is that person’s responsibility to inform the court of any address change. If they moved and did not notify the court, they will not have a valid defense for a failure to appear charge. An attorney in Temecula could help someone prepare a valid defense for a failure to appear charge.

Contact the Leading Temecula Failure to Appear Attorneys

Missing a required court date can be a serious situation that can result in an arrest, significant jail time, steep fines, and even a driver’s license suspension. If you missed a court appearance as ordered, we strongly urge you to speak with a leading Temecula failure to appear lawyer.

At the Law Offices of Scott Henry, our seasoned attorneys understand how to negotiate effectively to have a bench warrant cleared, and FTA charges reduced or dismissed. Contact our offices today for a free consultation. We could ensure your rights are protected, help you avoid an arrest, and resolve your legal matter favorably.

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