Virginia law considers court appearances a serious matter. When you agree to appear in court or receive a court summons, the judge expects you to meet that obligation. Failure to Appear (FTA) can prompt the judge to issue a bench warrant for your arrest.
Failure to appear in court is a criminal offense in its own right, meaning that it is an additional charge to the one that you were originally charged with. You will be liable for the penalties of FTA even if the court dismisses your original charge or if your case ends in acquittal.
If you believe you have missed a date in Virginia court, contact a Virginia Beach failure to appear lawyer as soon as possible. Your attorney will offer a strategy for dealing with your FTA charge and your bench warrant. If your failure to appear was due to a mistake or a legitimate reason, a skilled lawyer might be able to help you clear the warrant. However, the longer you wait, the weaker your chances of success become.
Penalties for Failure to Appear in Virginia
As soon as a judge issues a bench warrant, you are at risk of arrest at any time. Law enforcement officers may not actively search for you, but they may pick you up after a traffic stop or other routine interaction.
Missing a court date for a misdemeanor charge will lead to a misdemeanor FTA charge. The penalties for misdemeanor failure to appear are up to a year in jail and as much as $2,500 in fines. Failing to appear for a felony charge can result in a $2,500 fine and one to five years in jail. Furthermore, failure to appear in court will lead to a forfeiture of your bond, a violation of your probation, and a revocation of your suspended sentence.
In some cases, you may instead face a contempt citation with penalties of a fine of up to $250 and up to ten days in jail.
Long-Term Consequences of a Felony FTA Conviction
If you are convicted of a felony failure to appear charge, you may face additional consequences even after you have served your jail time and paid your fine. A felony conviction on your permanent record may affect:
- Your right to vote
- Your right to own a gun
- Your employment prospects
- Your ability to rent a home
- Your ability to run for office
- Your ability to hold a government job
You should contact a Virginia Beach criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible if you have intentionally or unintentionally missed a court date so you can have an opportunity to avoid any unnecessary legal penalties or other consequences.
Contact Pincus Goodman, P.C., Today
When you fail to appear for a court date, you may be unaware of how much more complicated you are making your legal issues. If you have failed to appear before a court in Virginia Beach after receiving a summons, there may still be steps you can take to minimize the consequences of your charges. An experienced attorney can help.
The skilled and knowledgeable criminal defense attorneys at Pincus Goodman, P.C., will offer a proactive approach and work diligently to reach a favorable result for both your FTA charge and the original offense. Call us today at (757) 301-9634 or contact us online for a consultation to learn more about your legal options and how we can help you.