Consequences of missing a court date
After a defendant is arrested and taken into custody on suspicion of committing a crime, they are held until able to post bail. In exchange for their release, suspects must agree to attend court appearances and face charges brought against them. But what happens if the defendant fails to appear in court
Forfeiture of Bail
Bail itself is a monetary agreement that a defendant will appear in court. Typically, when a suspect posts bail and complies with court orders, the amount paid is returned (minus any fees). However, If a suspect chooses not to adhere to the bail agreement, the bond amount is forfeited to the courts, leaving the bail agency responsible for the bill. In most instances, the bail company will then work to locate and surrender the suspect to the court.
When a defendant misses a court date, a judge issues a bench warrant. A bench warrant directs law enforcement agents to take a suspect into custody and address the failure to appear in court. If a suspect cannot be located and still does not appear within a certain amount of time, “Failure to Appear” charges could be added against them. Additional charges usually match the severity of the original offense. For examples, if a defendant was charged with a felony, the “Failure to Appear” charge would also be a felony, greatly increasing the penalties and consequences they would face in court.
Potential of Court Action
Not only does a defendant that skips court appearances have the potential to add more charges, but they also could face further consequences. A judge could impose further jail time or increase fines. Some suspects have drivers licenses revoked or suspended, while others may have the terms of their release or bond changed.