When a person gets a traffic ticket or is arraigned on a crime and released, they receive a notice to appear requiring them to attend court to answer the charges. Similarly, people who have pled guilty and await sentencing or have appealed convictions might receive a notice to appear.
Although missing a court date might not seem like a big deal, courts take it seriously. Police can arrest someone who does not show up to court when scheduled without a good excuse. A Clermont failure to appear lawyer could help you make good with the court. Acting soon after the missed court appearance and contacting a skilled defense attorney is important if you wish to clear yourself of the charge.
Not appearing in court as required is a crime according to Florida Statute § 843.15. Even if the appearance was for a minor matter like a speeding ticket, the act of missing the court appearance is a first-degree misdemeanor. If the person was due in court to answer a felony charge, missing the appearance is a third-degree felony.
Someone who misses court will forfeit any bail or security they posted. A judge will usually issue a Failure to Appear (FTA) warrant when someone does not show up for court. Although the police do not typically search for the person to arrest them, they will be arrested if they come into contact with law enforcement. Arrest on an FTA warrant does not allow bond. The subject of the warrant will remain in jail until the court schedules a hearing on the failure to appear.
An individual who is arrested for failure to appear should contact a Clermont attorney immediately, so they can present the individual’s excuse to the judge and offer assurances they will make all future court appearances.
A person arrested on an FTA warrant might face penalties if they cannot produce evidence of a reasonable excuse for missing court. Besides losing their bond, they could face up to one year in jail and a $1,000 fine if they missed court on a traffic infraction or misdemeanor charge. If they failed to appear on a felony charge, they could face up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine.
The judge will consider multiple factors when sentencing someone for failure to appear. They might impose a harsh sentence if the individual has an extensive criminal record or a history of appearance violations. A Clermont missed court date attorney could present all the mitigating factors that might persuade a judge to be lenient in a specific case.
Someone who realizes they missed a court date should to try to resolve the matter before they are arrested on an FTA warrant. If an unavoidable situation prevented the person from making their court date and they have proof of their excuse, a motion to recall the FTA warrant could resolve the matter. A Clermont attorney must file the motion within 60 days, so someone who missed court should seek legal assistance as soon as possible.
Not all reasons for missing court are acceptable. Having to work or being unable to get childcare are usually invalid excuses. The court expects a person to make advance arrangements to attend court as required. Not receiving the notice in the mail does not excuse failing to attend court because individuals facing charges must keep the court informed of their current address. However, even if a court is unlikely to find an excuse acceptable, acknowledging the mistake could get the warrant dismissed.
Being in jail on another charge, a serious medical emergency involving a close family member, a car accident on the way to court, or similar situation could excuse an individual from court attendance. The sooner the individual presents their excuse to the court, the more lenient the court is likely to be.
The worst thing you can do after missing a court date is to ignore it. A judge could excuse your non-appearance if you had a good reason. Even if you do not have a valid excuse for missing court, any punishment the court imposes is likely to be less harsh if you take the initiative and resolve the FTA before an arrest.
Whether you just realized you missed a court date or you were arrested on an FTA, a Clermont failure to appear lawyer could help. Call today to get the process started.
The Umansky Law Firm Criminal Defense & Injury Attorneys