If you ever miss a court date, the court issues a warrant for your arrest. As soon as you can, appear in court to recall the warrant. Acting quickly shows you are serious about the case. Failing to act quickly can lead to police showing up at your house or job and arresting you, leading to further charges.
However, you should never appear in court without a lawyer to represent you. An experienced criminal defense attorney may be able to recall the warrant without you having to appear in court, depending on the charges.
In Florida, failing to appear for a court date is actually considered a crime according to Florida Statute 843.15(b). If you fail to appear in court after posting bond, you will receive a notice to appear or a bench warrant (capias) for your arrest. Failing to appear at court is typically a first-degree misdemeanor. However, it can increase to a felony if the court date you missed was for a felony charge.
The penalties for a first-degree misdemeanor include:
- Up to $1,000 in fines
- Up to 12 months in jail
If you failed to appear at a court date for a felony charge, while awaiting sentencing, or while your sentence is pending review, you may be charged with a third-degree felony.
The maximum penalties for a third-degree felony include:
- Up to $5,000 in fines
- Up to five years of imprisonment
Florida courts take failing to appear in court very seriously. If you become a flight risk, a warrant will be issued immediately.
If you are arrested for failing to appear before seeing a judge, you may or may not be able to bond out. You could be arrested with a bond amount that allows you to bond out of jail; you could be arrested with no bond, or you are arrested with a high bond or no bond that is adjusted at your first appearance within 24 hours of being arrested.
Factors that determine whether you are eligible for a bond include:
- Ties to the community
- Likelihood to appear for future court hearings
- If you have a job
- The crime you were originally arrested for
- Your criminal record
- Record of failing to appear in the past
- Danger to the community
Reasons for Missing a Court Date
There are many reasons people miss their court date. Did you forget you had a court date? Maybe you recently moved or had the wrong date and time for the court date? Did you receive a formal court date notice in the mail? Maybe you were in jail in a different county?
No matter if the reason is easily resolvable or not, the problem will not go away on its own. If a formal failure to appear is filed, you will have to face the criminal charge as well.
This is why you should have an experienced criminal defense attorney on your side. They will be able to create the best defense for you. Some defenses include:
- Lack of notice
- Incorrect or insufficient notice
Whenever you are appearing in court, it is always best to have an attorney on your side. Contact Attorney Brandon Gans now if you have missed a court date in Central Florida.