Failure to Appear by Defendant or Witness

Have you received a charge for failing to appear in court? Have you wondered how and why this happened? If you’re facing federal failure to appear charges, the Zoukis Consulting Group can help.

In this article, we will cover the basics of what represents a failure to appear charge, and answer any questions you may have about it.

Call us as soon as possible to let our defense lawyers start building a case against your charges.

What is “Failure to Appear,” and What Does It Mean? 

There are situations in which you must appear in-person to a court session:

  • Charged with a crime
  • Subpoenaed as a witness
  • Jury duty
  • Lawsuit
  • Traffic ticket or citation and must attend traffic court

In each of these circumstances, you are legally required to show up to your assigned court date. If you don’t show up or are unable to show up but fail to provide a valid excuse, you can receive a failure to appear (FTA) charge.

There are 2 types of failure to appear charges:

  • §2J1.5. Failure to appear by material witness
  • §2J1.6. Failure to appear by the defendant

Failure to appear by a witness or defendant is a federal offense involving the administration of justice.

The severity of the consequences for this charge depends on several factors like the severity of the reason you were needed in court or the number of times you’ve missed court in the past.

Failure to appear by a witness or defendant has criminal consequences. These consequences often depend on the severity of your situation, but in most cases, you will either receive a fine or a warrant will go out for your arrest.

When Do You Need to Show Up to Court? 

Whether you’re charged with a criminal offense or you received a citation, the court will notify you of the location, date, and time that you need to appear in the form of a legal document. 

You will receive a legal document that details when and where you need to attend court. If you’re unsure of when your court date is, you can find the information on the following paperwork:

  • Subpoena
  • Summons (for civil court, criminal court, or jury duty)
  • Traffic ticket or citation

The reason you may have received a legal document varies from case to case. 

If you receive a subpoena, you’re most likely needed as a witness to testify in a trial or civil case. 

If you receive a summons, you are either the plaintiff or defendant party in a criminal or civil case, or you need to perform jury duty. 

If you receive a traffic ticket or citation, you can either pay this fine ahead of time or attend your court date to enter a plea or attempt to lower your fines. 

What Happens if You Miss Your Court Date?

Simply put, if you don’t show up, you will receive a failure to appear charge. Failure to Appear is a criminal charge that usually carries either a fine or jail time as punishment. 

In addition to a failure to appear charge, you can receive other penalties for failing to appear in court. These penalties vary based on the circumstances of your original charge. For example:

  • Traffic court could suspend or revoke your license for failing to appear. 
  • You could get arrested and charged with failing to appear, which is a misdemeanor in most states.
  • You could have to pay fines that could cost you up to $500 in most cases.

What to Do if You Can’t or Didn’t Attend Your Court Date

To avoid getting a failure to appear charge, it’s always best to ask permission rather than forgiveness. 

If you have extenuating circumstances that prevent you from showing up in court, you can request a continuance. A continuance is simply a postponement of the court proceedings to a later date. This will help you avoid failing to appear. 

If you’ve already missed your court date and did not request a continuance, the consequences are most likely already set in motion. This doesn’t mean that you’re defenseless, though.

There are certain circumstances in which the court will dismiss a failure to appear charge, such as:

  • If you were not given proper notice of your court date and can prove this
  • If there was a family emergency or death in the family
  • If there was a natural disaster that would’ve put you in immediate danger 
  • If you were ill or in the hospital
  • If you were in another court proceeding at the same time that you had another court date

If you can’t prove that any of these circumstances affected your ability to be present in court, you will be charged with failure to appear and have to face the consequences.

Call the Zoukis Consulting Group Today

If you’ve been charged on the federal level with failing to appear in court, our defense lawyers can help. Call us as soon as you can so we can come to your aid and build a strong case for you. We will ensure your rights are protected.

Schedule a free consultation today.

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