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What Is Failure to Appear?

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What Is Failure to Appear?

An individual who is required to appear in a local, state, or federal court must do so, or they will be cited with failure to appear (FTA). A failure to appear charge is given when a person does not appear in court for a hearing or participate in jury duty.  

What If a Person Does Not Show up in Court?

When a defendant, witness, or juror fails to show up for court when they are required to do so, a judge may issue a bench warrant against them. A bench warrant is an order issued by a judge authorizing law enforcement to find and arrest the individual. The police may arrest them at any time, such as at home, work, or school.

What Happens after the Arrest Is Made?

The individual is taken to jail until he appears in front of the judge. The judge may release them on their own recognizance or require them to post bail. If a defendant posted bail on their original criminal charge, they may forfeit the bail. This means the defendant, or anyone who posted bail on the defendant’s behalf, will lose the money posted for the original bail.

Will I Face Criminal Charges for failing to Appear?

Yes, a judge will set a hearing date for the failure to appear charge. Depending on the jurisdiction, failing to appear can be a misdemeanor or felony.
The individual can also face contempt of court charges. This may result in penalties such as jail time and/ or fines.

What If I Failed to Appear at a Civil Court Hearing?

Anyone who fails to appear at a civil hearing faces slightly different penalties. If the one who does show up to court is the plaintiff, her case may be dismissed. The judge may dismiss with prejudice which may prevent her from filing the same lawsuit again.
If the defendant does not appear in court, the judge may automatically decide the case in the plaintiff’s favor. Automatically deciding in favor of the plaintiff is called a default judgment. It is legally binding.

Should I Talk with a Lawyer about FTA?

Yes, failure to appear is a serious charge. You should talk with a criminal defense lawyer immediately in order to discuss the charge you are face and any possible defenses you may have.

Photo of page author Taelonnda Sewell

, LegalMatch Legal Writer

Last Modified: 06-16-2015 02:04 PM PDT

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