Failure to appear in court occurs when a person does not show up at their hearing or trial. To punish a person for failing to appear in court, a judge may issue a bench warrant during the hearing or trial once in becomes apparent that the person is not going to show up in court. A bench warrant is a court order for the person to be arrested for not appearing at the hearing. In Nevada, not appearing at a scheduled court date is a crime.

Am I AutomaticallyA Charged with Failing to Appear Once I Do Not Show Up?

No. According to state law, a person who fails to appear in court cannot be charged with the crime if they surrender themselves within 30 days of failing to appear.

Is Not Showing up for Court a Felony or Misdemeanor Charge in Nevada?

The specific penalty depends on the crime that the person is accused of committing. If someone fails to appear for a misdemeanor case, non-appearance in court is a misdemeanor charge. A person is guilty of a gross misdemeanor if they fail to show up for their court date for a gross misdemeanor criminal offense. It is a category D felony charge if someone did not show up for their felony court date or if a person left Nevada with the intent to avoid prosecution, regardless of the category of crime for which they are trying to avoid being prosecuted.

What Is the Penalty for Failure to Appear?

If a person is convicted for non-appearance in Nevada, they face the following potential penalties:

  • For a misdemeanor:
    • Six months in county jail
    • $1,000 fine
    • Fine and county jail time
  • For a gross misdemeanor:
    • One year in county jail
    • $1,000 fine
    • County jail time and fine
  • For a category D felony:
    • One to four years in prison
    • $5,000 fine
    • Fine and prison time

Of course, it is always possible judge may suspend the prison time and sentence the person to probation instead. However, it may be difficult to convince a judge to grant probation once you have already proven that you may be a flight risk when you failed to appear.

Should I Contact a Lawyer?

Yes, you should reach out for legal assistance. If you have not surrendered yourself within the 30-day window following your original court date, you will be facing additional charges on top of the charges that you were originally facing. A Nevada lawyer will help you fight both the original charges and the new charges that you are facing as a result of missing your court date.