Failure to Appear in Court

Failure to Appear in Court: What Will Happen Next?

An arrest will require the person accused of a crime to go to court to answer the charges. If he or she does not go to court each time they are required to be there, a judge will usually sign a warrant for failure to appear. This is also known as a bench warrant. Not only will the person face being arrested again for missed court dates, but they could face additional charges of bail jumping and contempt of court.

After An Arrest

When someone is arrested, whether it is a misdemeanor charge or a felony, they are generally given the opportunity to post bail. Since bail amounts can be more than the average person has on hand, they often procure the services of a bondsman. A bondsman will charge the accused a percentage of the bail amount. This is usually ten percent. Then the bondsman will guarantee the remaining amount. This is known as a surety bond.

Before the bondman guarantees a bail bond, they will require the person that was arrested (the defendant) to sign a contract promising to pay the entire bail amount if they do not go to court. They will need to know the nature of the charges, such as a criminal charge or a misdemeanor charge.

They evaluate the likelihood that the defendant will go to any and all court appearances. If they do not show up for their court dates, the bondsman will actively look for them in an attempt to recoup the money they must now spend for the entire amount of the bail bond.

When the Defendant Does Not Show Up for Court

Once the defendant does not go to their court appearance, a bail forfeiture is issued requesting the full amount that was pledged for the release. The bail bondsman has guaranteed in the event that the defendant does not show, that they will pay the bail forfeiture. When this happens, the bondsman will contact friends, relatives, co-workers, and anyone else they think may know the whereabouts of the defendant.

In addition, when a bench warrant has been issued, police officers will re-arrest the defendant immediately if they see them. They may go to their home or place of business looking for them as well. Whether they are re-arrested during a traffic stop or in some other instance, the defendant may not be allowed bail again. If so, the amount will be significantly higher. Other charges, such as jumping bail and contempt of court can be added. Their drivers license is often suspended until the court case is completed.

Some states allow bondsman to obtain the services of a bounty hunter. A bounty hunter is paid to find the defendant and return them to jail. Although not all states allow bounty hunters, the ones that do have given them a fair amount of leeway when it comes to apprehending someone that has jumped bail. In some jurisdictions, the bounty hunter is allowed to break into a home if they suspect the defendant is there. They are even allowed to track the defendant to another state to catch them.

What are the Options?

A failure to appear will not expire. There is no statute of limitations even if there is one on the original charge. Depending on the charge, some states will extradite a person if this charge shows up during a traffic stop or another situation. Others will not. It will depend on whether the bench warrant was issued on a criminal charge or a misdemeanor charge.

How can this situation be remedied? Even if a defendant believes they are innocent of the original charges, it must be proven in court. Missed court dates only make the situation worse. Surrendering to face the charges, as well as the warrant issued because of not appearing in the first place, is the only way to take care of the problem.

It is possible that a defendant could have a good reason for not appearing in court. However, each situation is different, so an attorney should be consulted so he or she can explore their options. Simply not appearing can have serious ramifications that often cause more problems than the original charge.

Posted in CA Laws Comments Off on Failure to Appear in Court: What Will Happen Next?

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