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DC Failure to Appear Lawyer

If you have been charged with failure to appear in court, a DC failure to appear lawyer will help you understand your case and create an effective defense.

Failure to appear in court can result in severe penalties and a bench warrant for your arrest. It is against the law for anyone to intentionally not show up for a required court hearing and penalties can include substantial fines and jail time.

A DC failure to appear lawyer can help you if you are facing charges for missing a scheduled court appearance.

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In any criminal case you’re likely to have a number of different kinds of court hearings. These can include arraignment dates, presentment dates, status hearings, trial dates, and sometimes probation review hearings. For most of these, you will have signed a promise to appear in court. This is a legally binding promise, and if you don’t show up for your court hearing, a judge will most likely issue what’s called a bench warrant for your arrest.

This warrant can be executed at any time where the police, or a U.S. Marshal, can arrest you — sometimes during a routine traffic stop or sometimes at your house or your job. If you’re arrested on a bench warrant because you missed a court date, it’s more likely that a judge would not allow you to remain out in the community while your case is pending.

It’s also more likely that the prosecutor will then add on a new charge called “contempt of court” for not showing up to your court date. A better way to deal with a bench warrant is to have the assistance of a lawyer to help you surrender yourself to the court, and have your lawyer explain why you didn’t show up for your court date. Your lawyer can then also argue to the judge why you should remain out on your own personal promise to reappear in court, so that you don’t get held during your court case.

Defining Failing to Appear

A summons to appear in court is legally binding. Whether or not an absence was intentional, failure to appear can result in serious penalties.

Failure to appear for a scheduled court date can result in an immediate bench warrant for an arrest and a possible charge of contempt of court. Some of the most common instances in which a failure to appear charge may be incurred include:

  • Failure to appear for a traffic adjudication hearing—If someone receives a traffic ticket, they have the option of either paying the ticket or challenging it by requesting a hearing with the DC DMV. If they do neither within 30 days, their ticket fines will double. If they take no action on the ticket within 30 additional days, their driver’s license may be suspended and they will still be assessed the doubled ticket amount as well as any applicable points on their license. Failure to appear for a scheduled ticket hearing will result in a default judgment being entered against them as well as a suspended license if the ticket is not paid within 60 days.
  • Failure to appear for jury duty—All citizens must appear for jury duty when so ordered by the court. If someone wishes to be excused, they must apply in writing. Failing to appear for jury duty may result in fines or even jail time.
  • Failure to appear for a criminal case—If someone has been charged with a criminal offense and released on your personal promise to appear for their next court hearing, they are required to attend all scheduled hearings even if they are represented by an attorney. Failure to appear constitutes an additional criminal charge called contempt of court which carries its own penalties, even if their original case is dismissed. The judge could also issue an immediate bench warrant for their arrest, meaning that they will be arrested on sight and held in jail until their next hearing.
  • Failure to appear as a witness—If someone is ordered to act as a witness in a trial, failure to appear could result in a material witness warrant being issued for their arrest, as well as a charge of criminal contempt of court.
  • Failure to appear for a civil protection order hearing—If they have been served with a request for a civil protection order, they are required to appear for the scheduled hearing. Failure to do so will not only result in a default protection order being issued against them, but will also result in the judge issuing a bench warrant for their arrest.

Penalties for Failure to Appear in Court

Whether or not someone’s failure to appear was intentional, the judge can immediately issue an arrest warrant if they are not present for a court hearing. Bench warrants never lapse. They can be arrested on an outstanding bench warrant years after their missed court date.

However, if they were hindered from appearing due to circumstances beyond their control (such as an illness, accident, or catastrophic event) the judge may dismiss the charges against them.

If prosecutors believe they voluntarily and purposefully violated a court order to appear in for a hearing, they may be able to charge them with contempt of court, which is a separate criminal carrying its own possible penalties.

No matter what the circumstances, consulting with a DC failure to appear attorney is someone’s best option for securing a positive outcome to their situation.

How a Failure to Appear Lawyer Help

Missing a court date is a serious offense. The longer you wait to address your absence, the more severe the consequences can be. The best course of action is to consult with a DC failure to appear lawyer to determine your next steps.

Your defense strategy will take into account whether or not you received the notice to appear, whether your failure to appear was purposeful, and any other circumstances related to your case.

If you have an outstanding bench warrant or have missed a court date and are wondering how to respond, contact a DC failure to appear lawyer immediately in order to protect yourself from additional charges and penalties.

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