P.O. Box 311603, Tampa, FL 33680

What Could Happen If I Fail to Appear in Court?

If you’re fortunate enough to be out on bond while you await your criminal trial, make sure to attend every court hearing and every day of your trial. If you don’t show up, you will likely have a warrant issued for your arrest, and you may be charged with failure to appear. Don’t jeopardize your future with a charge that can easily be avoided.

What Is a Failure to Appear Charge in Florida?

If a defendant willfully fails to appear for a court date while out on bail, they have committed a crime. Failure to appear can be a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the crime you were initially charged with.

A failure to appear for a misdemeanor court charge date will result in a misdemeanor failure to appear charge, with a maximum sentence of:

  • One year in jail
  • One year probation
  • Fine up to $1,000

However, if you were initially charged with a felony and don’t show up for a court date, you may be charged with a third-degree felony of failure to appear, with much stiffer penalties:

  • Five years in prison
  • Five years probation
  • Up to a $5,000 fine

If you miss a court date, don’t panic – the worst thing you can do is hide from the courts. Instead, call an experienced Tampa criminal defense attorney.

Are There Any Exceptions for a Failure to Appear Charge?

People who are free on bond awaiting trial are just as vulnerable as anyone else to accidents or circumstances outside their control, and the Florida courts allow for this in a few instances. 

You might have a defense against a failure to appear charge if you had an accident that prohibits you from going to court or are seriously ill and under a doctor’s care.

However, other situations, such as not getting the notice of your court date, are not good excuses. You’re responsible for providing the court with your current address and updating it if you move. The court mails notices of a court date to the address they have on file, or to your lawyer.

Do You Need Failure to Appear Representation in Florida?

If you didn’t show up for a court date, you might still have legal options. Contact Shrader & Mendez, Attorneys at Law, at (813) 360-1529 to learn how we can help you. 

Posted in Criminal Defense