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Consequences of Failing to Appear in Court

Friday, April 29, 2016
Consequences of Failing to Appear in Court

It goes without saying that appearing for a court proceeding is of crucial importance, but sometimes extenuating circumstances or an honest lapse in memory causes someone to miss a court appearance. What happens when a defendant fails to appear in court?

Regardless of the charge – whether it be something as minor as a traffic offense, or a more severe charge like DWI or domestic disturbance – missing a court appearance can bring with it serious consequences. The specifics of the repercussion are determined by the judge and will depend on a number of factors. Based on these factors, here are some of the possible consequences for failure to appear in court.

Bench Warrant

Failure to appear may result in the judge issuing a bench warrant for your arrest. This is a type of warrant that authorizes police to arrest the individual by either actively seeking him out or if the individual is stopped for an unrelated issue (such as a traffic stop). Often, a person arrested on a bench warrant is held without bail until a court appearance because they are regarded as a possible flight risk.


Following a bench warrant arrest or your own surrender following a missed court appearance, the judge will decide if bail should be imposed. If the initial charge required bail to be posted, then it is possible that you will be held without bail. Otherwise, the bail amount will likely be significant as a result of your prior failure to appear.

Additional Fines

In California, defendants who fail to appear can face additional fines and charges. For example, if the charge was vehicle related, police have the power to suspend your license and impound your vehicle. Failure to appear charges can also bring with it fines exceeding $1,000.

Everyone makes mistakes. If you were charged with a crime and missed your court date, you need the assistance of an experienced attorney. If you are in the Los Angeles area and need aggressive and knowledgeable legal representation to fight a failure to appear charge, contact us to schedule a free consultation.