July 2, 2014 By Paul Wallin

How Failing to Appear in Court Could Cost You

If you have been issued a court order of any kind, it is always vital that you comply with its terms. Failing to appear in court on your required court date is not going to make your charges go away. It will only make matters worse.

If you received a traffic citation, you will have been required to sign the citation agreeing to appear in a specific court on a set date. If you were arrested for a crime and bailed out, you are required to appear on the date provided to you by the bail bondsman. If you failed to appear on the required date, a warrant for your arrest will likely be issued. If this occurs, you should contact an experienced criminal defense law firm to help you avoid arrest.

Can More Criminal Charges Come from Failing to Appear in Court? (California Penal Code Section 166)

Failing to appear in court
Failing to appear in court when you are required to appear has severe consequences.

Failing to appear in any of the following situations is a crime:

  • If a judge has ordered you to appear;
  • If you fail to appear when summoned to serve as a juror;
  • For a trial if you are the defendant, or a witness, or a juror; and/or
  • For a probation progress hearing.

If you fail to appear in court at the appropriate date and time, the judge will issue a bench warrant. This is different from an arrest warrant because it is not based on suspected criminal activity. If you have a bench warrant for a traffic violation, it will be put into the state’s database system. Anytime you get pulled over by the police, you can be taken into custody on the spot. For a more serious criminal offense, if you fail to appear in court, the judge may order police to enforce the bench warrant by going to your home or workplace and taking you into custody.

Once you are caught after failing to appear in court, you may be found guilty of contempt of court. Contempt of court means that you failed to comply with a court order. Under California Penal Code Section 166, “willful disobedience of the terms as written of any process or court order or out-of-state court order, lawfully issued by a court, including orders pending trial” is contempt of court.

Once you have failed to appear in court for your original crime or violation, the consequences can range anywhere from hefty fines to jail sentences.

Criminal Punishment for Contempt of Court (California Penal Code Section 166)

Being in contempt of court for failing to appear at your trial date is a misdemeanor, punishable by up to six months in county jail and a maximum fine of $1,000. However, certain situations could cause you to face more severe punishment including more hefty fines, a longer jail sentence up to one year in county jail and/or a prison sentence.

Possible Defenses to Failing to Appear

If you failed to appear, there are some defenses your skilled attorney can bring to the attention of the judge. In many cases, the failure to appear was not willful. Maybe an illness, a family emergency, or a natural disaster kept you from meeting your court responsibility. A variety of circumstances can show that you did not intentionally miss the court hearing.

Call the Criminal Defense Attorneys at Wallin & Klarich Today

Riverside criminal defense attorneys
Call our experienced Riverside criminal defense attorneys today.

Being involved in a trial can be a very traumatic situation for many people. If you are facing allegations for failing to appear or contempt of court, the consequences can be severe. Therefore, it is important for you to hire an experienced criminal attorney to defend you.

Our attorneys at Wallin and Klarich have been successfully defending those found in contempt of court for over 40 years. If you hire our team of our experienced attorneys, we will be able to appear in court for you without you having to be present. We can request the court to recall the warrant for your arrest which means you will not be arrested. We will then work diligently to help you achieve the best result possible in your criminal case.

With offices located in Orange County, San Bernardino, Los Angeles, Torrance, Riverside, West Covina, Victorville, Ventura, San Diego and Sherman Oaks, Wallin & Klarich is available to provide round-the-clock support no matter where you work or live

Call us at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 to discuss your case. We will help you get through this.

AUTHOR: Paul Wallin

Paul Wallin is one of the most highly respected attorneys in Southern California. His vast experience, zealous advocacy for his clients and extensive knowledge of many areas of the law make Mr. Wallin a premiere Southern California attorney. Mr. Wallin founded Wallin & Klarich in 1981. As the senior partner of Wallin & Klarich, Mr. Wallin has been successfully representing clients for more than 30 years. Clients come to him for help in matters involving assault and battery, drug crimes, juvenile crimes, theft, manslaughter, sex offenses, murder, violent crimes, misdemeanors and felonies. Mr. Wallin also helps clients with family law matters such as divorce and child custody.

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