Failure To Appear and Bail Jumping Lawyer | ATX Legal
Even with a valid excuse, a missed court date while on pretrial release can cause anxiety and stress. It can also lead to serious consequences like revocation of bail, new criminal penalties or even new felony charges. If you have missed court, don’t bury your head in the sand. Face the charges head-on. With swift action, you may be able to avoid a failure to appear or bail jumping charge altogether.
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What to Do if I Miss a Court Date
If you have missed a criminal proceeding, it is important to take immediate action. If you are already represented, contact your lawyer and let them know what happened. They can advise you on the best course of action and may be able to help reschedule your court appearance. If you do not have a lawyer, it is crucial to seek legal representation as soon as possible.
In some cases, missing court in a criminal case may have been due to a legitimate reason, such as an emergency or illness. If this is the case, you and your lawyer can present evidence to the court to explain your absence and potentially avoid any further consequences.
No matter the reason for the missed date, acting quickly to rectify the situation can often avoid additional criminal charges and keep your bail bond in place.
Criminal Charges for Failing to Appear in Court
In Texas, when a defendant failed to appear or skips bail, penalties are outlined under the Texas Penal Code Section 38.10. According to this penal code, if a person intentionally or knowingly fails to appear in accordance with the terms of his release on bail, he or she may be charged with felony or misdemeanor charges depending on the seriousness of the initial charge for which they were granted bail.
For instance, if the original offense was a class C misdemeanor, the failure to appear is also a class C. If the original charge was a class B or A misdemeanor crime, then the charge for failure to appear becomes a class A misdemeanor crime. If the original offense was a felony, then the failure to appear is a state jail felony. It’s important to note that these charges are in addition to the original charges the defendant was facing.
What Are the Consequences of Failure to Appear in Court?
The consequences when a defendant willfully fails to appear in court can vary depending on the judge and the circumstances surrounding the missed court date. In Texas, as mentioned above, failure to appear can result in additional criminal charges and potential jail time. However, there are also other repercussions that may arise from a failure to appear.
First, your bail bond may be revoked if you fail to show up for your scheduled court date. This means that you will no longer be released on bail and may have to remain in custody until your trial.
Additionally, a bench warrant may be issued for your arrest if you fail to appear in court. This means that law enforcement can actively search for and arrest you if they come across you during their duties.
Bail Revocation or Change in Conditions of Release
In addition to the above consequences, failure to appear can also result in a judge issuing a court order for revocation or modification of your bail conditions. This means that if you were released on bail with certain restrictions, such as a requirement to check in with law enforcement regularly or attend drug and alcohol counseling, those conditions may be changed or revoked completely.
If your bail is revoked or modified, you may be required to pay a higher amount or be held in custody until your trial. This can be particularly difficult if you are unable to afford a higher bail amount or have other responsibilities, such as caring for family members or maintaining employment.
Ankle Monitor and House Arrest
In some cases, the court may decide to enforce a form of confined monitoring in lieu of jail time or a higher bail amount. This is often executed in the form of an ankle monitor or house arrest, or both.
An ankle monitor is a device that is attached to the individual’s ankle and sends out a signal confirming the wearer’s location at all times. It’s a form of electronic monitoring that allows law enforcement to ensure that the individual is adhering to the terms of their bail or house arrest. Ankle monitors are often used in conjunction with house arrest.
House arrest requires the individual to stay within their residence for the majority of the day. Exceptions may be made for work, school, or appointments approved by the court or probation officer. This is more common for felonies than for misdemeanor cases.
What is a Bench Warrant?
If you fail to appear in court and the judge issues a warrant for your arrest, this is known as a bench warrant. This type of warrant authorizes law enforcement to immediately take the defendant into custody if you are found, regardless of where you are or what you may be doing at the time, even for a routine traffic stop.
Bench warrants are typically issued when someone fails to show up for their scheduled court date or violates a condition of their bail. If you have a bench warrant issued against you, it’s important to contact an attorney as soon as possible to address the situation and potentially avoid being arrested on the spot.
What are Potential Legal Defenses to Failure to Appear in Court?
There are various legal defenses that can be used in the case of criminal failure to appear in court, depending on the circumstances and the underlying charges. Some common defenses include:
Lack of Notice: If you were not given proper notice of your court date or received incorrect information, you may have a valid defense for failing to appear.
Emergency Situations: If an unavoidable emergency prevented you from attending court, such as a medical emergency or a natural disaster, this may be a valid defense. However, it’s important to have documentation or evidence to support your claim.
Inability to Appear: If you are currently incarcerated, hospitalized, or physically unable to appear in court, you may have a valid defense even if you did receive notice.
Mistaken Identity: If the court has mistaken your identity and issued a bench warrant against you, this is a valid defense. This can happen if someone with a similar name or appearance fails to appear in court and the warrant is mistakenly issued in your name.
How Can An Attorney Have Your Failure To Appear Removed?
If you have a valid legal defense, an attorney can help present your case in court and have the failure to appear charge removed. They can also negotiate with the prosecutor to dismiss or reduce the charges if there are mitigating factors.
In addition to presenting a defense, an attorney can also assist in addressing any underlying issues that may have led to the failure to appear. This can include addressing transportation issues, rescheduling conflicts, or mental health concerns that may have hindered your ability to attend court.
Even if you don’t have a valid reason for missing court, criminal attorneys may be able to take swift action to avoid further consequences. Often, as long as you are present at the next available court proceedings, the judge will offer a grace period for failing to appear.
Contact a Bail Jumping and Failure to Appear Attorney
If you have been charged with bail jumping or failure to appear, it’s important to seek legal representation as soon as possible. An experienced attorney can help assess your case and determine the best course of action for a favorable outcome.
Additionally, an attorney can guide you through the process and ensure that you understand your rights and options. They can also provide support and advocacy in court, working to have the charges dismissed or reduced.
Don’t delay in seeking legal help if you have been charged with bail jumping or failure to appear. Fill out a contact form today for a consultation and representation in your case. Remember, having a bench warrant issued against you does not automatically mean you have been found guilty – with the right defense, you can overcome these charges and move forward.