Failure to appear (FTA)

Failure to appear (FTA)

Failure to appear in court as promised is a violation of the law which may result in an arrest warrant, fines, and other penalties. Any time an individual has a duty, or has made an agreement, to appear in court, they can be penalized for failure to appear. A failure to appear can involve a traffic court appointment, jury services, a civil case, or a criminal case.

Failure to appear in traffic court is a violation of the written promise to appear in court on a given day at a specific time. One can be penalized for a failure to appear even if they are found not guilty of the arrest or citation charge or even if the case is dismissed. Failure to appear may be considered a misdemeanor offense in some jurisdictions. When court has on record your failure to appear, they may issue a bench warrant for your arrest. Failure to appear can also result in a court order to suspend your license. In many jurisdictions, in order to clear a failure to appear record a person must pay the original amount for the citation plus the penalty fees for the failure to appear.

Failure to appear can also apply to violations of jury services requirements. All United States citizens over the age of eighteen are required by law to fulfill jury duty services periodically unless a legal excuse has been approved by the proper authorities. Depending on the jurisdiction, a failure to appear for jury duty may initially result in notifications and additional jury duty assignment notices. At any point, a failure to appear for jury duty services may result in a bench warrant being issued for the arrest of the person in contempt of court. Failure to appear for jury duty may also result in punitive fines.

Failure to appear in a civil case has slightly different consequences than those in other failure to appear cases. If the plaintiff (the one who filed the lawsuit) fails to appear in court as required, the case may be dismissed, thereby forfeiting the chance to pursue the legal case in the future. If the defendant or respondent in a civil case commits a failure to appear violation, the court may automatically judge in favor of the plaintiff in the absence of a trial. This is called a default judgment and the decisions rendered in this way are legally binding to all parties.

When a person is charged with a crime, there can be heavy penalties for failure to appear. If a person faces criminal charges there will be a number of mandatory court appearances they must make. Upon arrest and prior to release, the alleged offender will agree to appear in court on a specific day and time. A failure to appear will result in a bench warrant issued for your arrest. Once apprehended, the defendant may be required to post bail or be denied from release prior to the conclusion of the trial. An attorney may appear on behalf of a defendant at an arraignment hearing, except in cases of domestic violence, DUI, or other offenses. In most other cases, however, a failure to appear in criminal court as required will result in significant penalties.

If you would like to learn more about failure to appear, please contact us to speak with a qualified and experienced attorney in your area.

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