Failing To Appear: How To Avoid Jail Time

Failing to appear (FTA) for a court date is a serious matter. Whether you skipped out on a misdemeanour or felony offense hearing, the judge can order a bench warrant for your arrest. 

Sometimes people involuntarily miss court dates. The defendant confuses dates or is mistakenly sent the wrong dates by the court clerk. Whatever the reason, a bail bond for failure to appear could keep you out of jail. 

Failing to Appear 

Defendants often become aware of a missed court appearance when an arrest warrant arrives in their mailbox. If you do not show up at the FTA hearing, you could be arrested. If you are arrested, you will need to post bail to be released from jail.

Alternatively, you could show good faith in your intention to attend the FTA hearing. If you have missed a court date, immediately contact the court clerk at the court at which you failed to appear. If you are under a bond, your bondsmen have likely already contacted you to enquire why you missed the court date. If not, contact them as soon as possible.

While it is true bondsmen have the legal right to arrest you for skipping bond, if you are not a flight risk, they will often prefer to support you and have the bond restated at the FTA hearing. 

The FTA Court Appearance

Before your FTA court date, prepare any supporting documents and witnesses (witness statements for the court will suffice for an FTA) to explain your absence. Being prepared will show that you respect the court system and take the FTA charge seriously throughout the process. 

You will not be taken seriously, however, if you provide lame excuses for your absence. Claims that you were working or not guilty so you did not show up will not please the court. If you can prove a mixup in court dates or events out of your control (e.g., an accident, illness), the judge will be more open to recalling the warrant.

The Judgement

In the best case scenario, the judge will recall the bench warrant and reschedule the original court case for another date. Or the judge could order you be held in jail until the case is heard and judgment delivered.

The judge may also:

  • restate, revoke, or increase the bond 
  • change other conditions of release
  • impose fines and penalties

Not showing up for a court hearing can be costly, beyond the cost of the bail bond loan. By staying in close contact with your bail bondsmen, you can avoid ever missing a court date.