Failure to appear in court (FTA) charges, can have very serious consequences and may lead to a criminal record. If you fail to appear in court as summoned, or even fail to appear for jury duty, you may be arrested and subjected to fines. Even some minor cases such as traffic violations can lead to severe consequences.
According to Maryland Criminal Procedure Code § 5-212, if a person fails to appear in court in response to a citation, a judge may issue a bench warrant for that person’s arrest. A person who is released on bond or bail and fails to appear in court is subject to a misdemeanor FTA charge. The penalty for such a charge is a $500 fine and up to 90 days in jail. You also will most likely forfeit your bond.
If a bench warrant has been issued, you shouldn’t wait around to be arrested. If you have some type of reasonable excuse for your failure to appear, you or your attorney can file what is called a motion to recall and quash the warrant. In some cases the bond that has been forfeited may even be reinstated. Reasonable excuses for failing to appear in court include:
- Documented serious injury or illness
- The documented serious injury or illness of an immediate relative (child, spouse, or parent) under your care
- A failure to receive notice of the hearing due to an error by the court
- Incarceration on other charges
- Accident, car breaking down, or other circumstances beyond your control.
When deciding whether to quash a warrant, a court will consider the underlying charges, the reason for the failure to appear, and a defendant’s prior history of failing to appear.
Failure to appear in court in response to a traffic citation could result in a suspension of your driver’s license. If you fail to appear for trial your license is likely already suspended. Driving on a suspended license is a criminal offense.
Contact an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney
If you have a bench warrant out for failure to appear, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney to help you through the process. Contact the lawyers at Alpert Schreyer, LLC or call us at 866-444-6363 for a free consultation today.