Fort Worth Failure to Appear Lawyer
Being arrested and charged with a crime can be a frustrating. Many people who go through this process face the temptations of not appearing in court on their scheduled court date. Other times, an unforeseen circumstance can prevent someone from attending their court date. Unfortunately, this can lead to significant penalties and other repercussions that can only make a difficult situation even worse.
A Fort Worth failure to appear lawyer can help dissolve the tensions that arise if you fail to appear in court for a criminal proceeding. Failing to appear is not always an affront to the law, and showing that it was all a mistake or a misunderstanding is something that a dedicated defense attorney can help to prove.
The Law of Bail Jumping
Failing to appear at a court appearance is also known as bail jumping in Fort Worth. Prohibited by Texas Penal Code § 38.10, intentionally or knowingly failing to appear in court is a crime in itself.
Despite the colloquial term of bail jumping, bail is not a necessary element to the offense of failing to appear. Anyone who has been released from custody on condition of their subsequent appearance at a court date, with or without bail, can face failure to appear charges if they are not present at that court date.
Defending Against a Charge of Failure to Appear
There are several ways to defend against an accusation of failure to appear. A Fort Worth failure to appear lawyer will know which defenses are the most likely to succeed in a given case.
Mistake or Lack of Intent
Failure to appear charges can only become convictions if they are the result of intentional or knowing conduct. Accidentally missing a court date is not enough. Preventing the prosecutor from proving that the failure to appear was an intentional violation of the law can be an effective defense.
Reasonable Excuse for Failing to Appear
Having a reasonable excuse for not appearing at the assigned court date can prevent a charge of failing to appear from turning into a conviction. For example, parole requirements, community supervision, or an intermittent sentence can keep someone away from a mandatory court date. Other incidents such as a debilitating car accident may also be severe enough to become a reasonable excuse for failing to appear.
Repercussions in Fort Worth
A conviction for failing to appear at a required court date is significant. Typically, failing to appear is a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in jail and a fine of up to $4,000.
If the court date that was missed was associated with an especially severe or a particularly light offense, though, these penalties can change. For example, if the underlying offense was a Class C misdemeanor, such as a traffic ticket, failure to appear is only punishable as another traffic ticket offense.
However, if the underlying offense was a felony-level crime, failure to appear at the required court date automatically changes to a third-degree felony. A conviction for these offenses can come with between two and ten years in jail, and a fine of up to $10,000.
Arrest Warrant and Other Consequences
Unfortunately, fines and jail time are not the only consequence of a conviction for failing to appear. Judges frequently issue arrest warrants for defendants who did not show up at a required court proceeding.
Once this warrant is executed, it is far more difficult for a criminal defense attorney to get a reasonable bond. Those arrested may have to stay in jail until their trial if they failed to appear at a prior court date. Also, prosecutors may try to use a conviction for failing to appear as evidence of guilt in the underlying crime.
Let a Fort Worth Failure to Appear Attorney Help
If you failed to appear or missed a court date, it is best to seek help from a skilled lawyer. Not all failures to appear, though, are intentional or even voluntary. Showing that your absence was truly out of your control and that your failure to appear was excusable will take the help an attorney. Contact a Fort Worth failure to appear lawyer for the legal help you need.