Failure to appear in court as scheduled is a common problem for defendants. In any given year, approximately one-third of criminal defendants fail to appear in court as scheduled. Many of these individuals are not aware that they have a court date, cannot make the date due to other obligations, or simply forget about their court appearance.
Whatever the reason, failing to appear can result in fines and even jail time for many defendants. If you’re an individual facing criminal charges, it’s important to understand your rights and responsibilities as a defendant.
When you have been issued a court date but then fail to appear as scheduled, there may be consequences that last beyond the scope of your initial case. Your failure to appear could result in the following consequences.
Fines are among the most common penalties defendants face if they fail to appear in court. However, the amount of the fine is not standardized, meaning that the judge has the discretion to decide the amount of the fine based on the specifics of your case.
When you initially appear in court, the judge may set your fine at a certain amount. If you fail to appear, the court will issue a bench warrant for your arrest. If you are arrested, the judge may decide to increase your fine as punishment for failing to appear in court.
Loss of Your Bail
Bail is the money you put up to be released from jail before your trial. If you fail to appear in court, the court will forfeit your bail and use the money to pay for the trials of other defendants who have appeared in court. If you have posted bail, you can ask the court to have it returned after you appear in court. If you are unable to appear in court, you can ask the court to have the bail forfeited. If you have a poor track record of showing up in court, the judge is likely to deny your request.
Revocation of Your Driver’s License
If you were issued a summons to appear in court, you were given a driver’s license suspension as a penalty if you failed to do so. You may have an opportunity to request a hearing if you fail to appear in court, but are unable to request a hearing to avoid the license suspension.
If you fail to appear in court and you have a driver’s license, the court will revoke your license and require you to pay for the costs for a cab ride to court for each day you fail to appear.
Jail time is reserved for defendants who have consistently failed to appear in court. However, even one failure to appear could result in jail time for certain defendants.
Defendants who are on pretrial release, are charged with violent crimes, have a high flight risk, or pose a threat to the community are likely to face jail time if they fail to appear in court. If a judge issues a warrant for your arrest, the judge has the ability to sentence you to jail time immediately.
Possible Deportation for non-citizens
Defendants who are not American citizens are at risk of being deported if they fail to appear in court. If you are a non-citizen and you fail to appear in court, the judge can issue a detainer, which is a request to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to begin deportation proceedings. If you are found in violation of the terms of your release at any point, DHS can place you in removal proceedings.
A Tarnished Criminal Record
A failure to appear in court can result in more than fines, jail time, or the loss of your driver’s license. If you fail to appear in court, you will have a criminal record.
A criminal record can result in a range of negative professional and personal consequences, including difficulty finding employment, housing, and financial aid. Even if you resolve your case, you will still have a criminal record.
How to Avoid Failing to Appear in Court
The most effective way to avoid failing to appear in court is to be aware of your upcoming court dates. Most courts provide calendars online so you can check your court dates. You can also sign up for text or email reminders so you don’t forget about your court dates.
Additionally, you should make sure that your bail bond company or surety company is aware of your upcoming court dates so they can remind you. Many bail bond companies offer online calendars and email reminders so you won’t forget an important court date.
When You Need a Bail Bond After Failing to Appear in Court
If you fail to appear in court after posting bail, you could lose your collateral. However, if you fail to appear in court and then seek a bail bond after the fact, you will likely face additional fees.
When you fail to appear after posting bail, the court can issue a warrant for your arrest. If you have a warrant for your arrest, you will be unable to post bail. Instead, you will need to seek out a bail bond company. After you have appeared in court, you can work with the same bail bond company to pay off the remaining amount of your bail.
Need a Bail Bond for Failure to Appear, Call Atomic Bail Bonds!
Failing to appear in court is a serious offense. If you fail to appear in court after being issued a court date, you can expect to be fined, have your bail forfeited, and possibly be incarcerated.
When you are in jail for failure to appear, you need all the help you can get. Give Atomic Bail Bonds a call today!