What Happens If You Fail To Appear In Court?

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After you have been arrested and charged with a crime, you may be required to show up for one or several court appearances. It is vitally important that you show up, on-time, each and every time a court summons your presence. If you fail to appear in court, you may face penalties worse than you would inflict otherwise, depending on the nature of your criminal charges and whether or not you face conviction. Failing to appear is a mistake you should avoid, even if the infraction you are accused of is as minor as a traffic violation.

There are numerous ways that a judge may react to your failure to appear. If you were not required to post bail in your case, a failure to appear may lead a judge to insist that you now do so. If you were required to post bail, a judge may increase your bail amount or may decide that your bail is forfeited. Losing bail money can pose a significant hardship for many individuals, especially if bail was posted through the help of a bail bond company which may opt to seize your house or car as collateral once your bail is forfeited.

A judge may also issue a bench warrant resulting in your arrest. Depending on the circumstances of your case, a judge may direct law enforcement to execute the warrant at your place of work or your place of residence.

Finally, a judge may treat your failure to appear as a crime in and of itself. This crime may be punishable by fines and even by significant jail time. These same penalties may be applied if a judge opts to hold you in contempt of court for your failure to appear.

Source: Findlaw Blotter, “Failure to Appear in Court: What Can Happen?” Daniel Taylor, Oct. 21, 2014