Failure to Appear in Gainesville, FL

Several offenses may require you to appear in court, ranging from simple traffic violations to more serious misdemeanors and felonies. Regardless of the charge, failing to appear in court when ordered to do so, whether intentionally or unintentionally, can result in harsh consequences. In situations like these, the earlier your seek legal representation from an experienced criminal defense attorney, the better. Adam Stout with Stout Defense, P.A. will thoroughly and aggressively defend you and ensure your rights are upheld.

What is a Failure to Appear (FTA)?

If you are scheduled for a hearing, you are required to appear in court before a judge. If you do not appear on the day you were assigned and previous arrangements were not made, you will be charged with failure to appear.

What is a real-life example of this law?

If you find yourself facing an FTA charge or warrant, it may have occurred for various reasons. A common situation may involve a simple traffic ticket. You may have been given a citation for a traffic violation and you feel you are not guilty. To fight your case, you chose the option of going to court. Although you put this important date on your calendar, an emergency occurred the night before and you found yourself in the ER with your sick child. You lost track of time due to caring for your child and realized too late that you missed your court date. You have failed to appear and now may face serious penalties.

What are the consequences and penalties?

The immediate consequence of failure to appear is a warrant being put out for your arrest. For the example outlined above, this would be a bench warrant. If the initial court hearing was due to a felony, however, and you failed to appear, a much more serious warrant, alias capias, would be issued. In this case, an active pursuit for your arrest would be more likely.

Per Florida Statute 843.15, a separate criminal charge can be filed for failing to appear in court after posting bond. If you were released in connection with a charge of a felony or while awaiting sentence, the act of failing to appear in court can, in and of itself, be charged as a third-degree felony. This would incur a penalty of up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000. If you were released in connection with a charge of a misdemeanor, you could face a charge of a first-degree misdemeanor for failing to appear in court. The penalty would be up to 1 year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.

What defense options do I have?

First and foremost, waiting is not an option. If you have failed to appear in court and have an active warrant out for your arrest, not taking action can result in devastating consequences. The warrant will show up in any background checks you may have for employment or residential leases. In addition, you will become ineligible for government support and unemployment benefits and may have your driver’s license suspended.

Therefore, contacting an experienced criminal defense attorney in Gainesville is imperative to ensure your case is reviewed and action is taken in a timely manner. Adam Stout with Stout Defense, P.A. will look at your individual case and discuss your options, which may include communicating with the court, completing the appropriate paperwork, and possibly lifting the outstanding warrant. As a former prosecutor, Adam Stout brings experience from both sides to help you effectively fight and defend your case.