If you have failed to appear for a court date in Florida the consequences of your failure to appear could be harsh. Only an experienced Florida criminal defense attorney can advise you how to proceed based on the specific facts and circumstances surrounding your failure to appear; however, there are some common situations and resulting outcomes that may provide you with general information.
- Failing to appear when summoned/subpoenaed –you could be subpoenaed by a court to appear as a witness in a civil or criminal case. Although you are only a witness, an order to appear is just that, an order to appear. Failing to obey that order could result in a bench warrant being issued for your arrest.
- Failing to appear for probation/parole –when you are on probation or parole you remain under the court’s authority. Failing to show up for a scheduled appointment, while not technically a “failure to appear”, will often result in the officer filing a violation with the court unless your attorney is able to intervene before the violation is filed.
- Failing to appear in civil court –failing to appear in a civil court matter, such as a divorce or a small claims lawsuit could result in the court continuing the matter or could result in the court entering a default judgment against you and in favor of the other party. If, for example, someone filed a lawsuit against you and you fail to show up for court the judge may enter a judgment in favor of the other party for the amount asked for in the original complaint or petition. In essence, you have lost your right to defend yourself by failing to appear.
- Failing to appear in criminal court –failing to appear for a pre-trial hearing in criminal court will often result in the judge immediately issuing an order for your arrest. In some cases, if your attorney is able to provide a valid reason for your failure to appear the judge will hold off with the order for your arrest and give you a short amount of time to make your appearance. If you are ultimately arrested as a result of a failure to appear in a criminal case your bail will typically be revoked, meaning you will remain incarcerated until your case is resolved. Additionally, the prosecutor may choose to file a separate and distinct criminal charge of Failure to Appear.
- Failing to appear for trial –though many people are unaware of this, failing to appear for trial could actually result in your conviction after a “trial in absentia”. In certain situations, the prosecution can actually conduct a trial without you there, resulting in your conviction without the ability to present a defense.
FAILURE TO APPEAR: LEGAL ASSISTANCE AND GUIDANCE
If you have failed to appear for any reason in Florida, it is imperative that you consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney right away to discuss your options