When someone receives an order to appear in court, they are expected to obey the order. However, accident and emergencies happen. Someone who misses a court appearance for even a legitimate reason might feel nervous about possible arrest warrants or other penalties.
If you find yourself in this situation, you should consult with a Dumfries failure to appear lawyer to see what you can do to handle the matter. There are many methods with which to approach the court when you did not appear as ordered. The best thing to do is to contact the court quickly to minimize or avoid the negative consequences. By doing nothing, you put yourself in a dangerous situation where the police may take you into custody, resulting in loss of your liberty and potential damage to your reputation.
Though there may be many innocent reasons why a person missed their court date, the court may assume the person’s absence was intentional. The person could talk with a local criminal defense attorney about how the failure to appear can be a felony or misdemeanor depending on the underlying criminal charge, as described in Code of Virginia §19.2-128.
The statute applies if a person does not come to court according to a summons. It also applies to instances when the government arrests a person and the court releases them on bond or on their own recognizance to come back at a later date. If the person had paid security or bond as part of a release, their absence allows the court to keep that security. The court may also excuse the absence in the following circumstances:
If the government had charged the defendant with a felony, or the court found the defendant guilty of a felony, failing to appear as required by the court is a Class 6 felony. The court may sentence the defendant to five years in prison simply for not coming to court. There may still be additional penalties related to the underlying matter.
If the underlying act was a misdemeanor, then the court may charge the defendant with a Class 1 misdemeanor. The punishment may include up to 12 months in jail for not coming to court as ordered.
The first step in sorting out a failure to appear dispute is to figure out if there is a bench warrant out for the defendant, which an attorney in the area could help uncover. If there is a warrant out for the person’s arrest, he or she may want an attorney to file a motion for the judge to withdraw the warrant. The attorney must show good cause for the judge to withdraw the warrant. It often helps to have a verifiable reason why the defendant didn’t appear as ordered. If the court refuses to remove the warrant, the attorney could request that the court releases the defendant on their recognizance and a promise to appear next time.
If the court had found the defendant guilty in their absence, the defendant would need to file a motion to reopen the court and request that the court set another trial. If the judge does not grant the proposal then the defendant may need to appeal any decision if there is time.
It can be confusing trying to figure out what to do after missing a court date. An attorney can advise you on the best strategy moving forward. Instead of worrying about what to do, call a Dumfries failure to appear lawyer to discuss your options. Time is of the essence, so call now to receive a free consultation.
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