An order to appear is a court-issued mandate, and if you do not show up—either intentionally or inadvertently—you committed a crime that may add to the time you spend incarcerated and the fines you have to pay. However, once you realize your mistake, do not delay in reaching out to a knowledgeable criminal lawyer.
Take action and consult with a Fulton County failure to appear lawyer before a manageable legal issue escalates into a more dire situation.
The news frequently reports congestion in the judicial system and mounting case backlogs. No-shows for court dates only intensify this situation, and they inconvenience everyone who is present and ready to proceed with the case. From the court’s perspective, a defendant’s absence is not only disrespectful but criminal.
Missed court dates can be misdemeanor or felony offenses. The classification primarily depends on the reason for the original order of appearance. Whatever the circumstances, a Fulton County attorney with experience in failure to appear matters may help defendants who skip their court dates work out reasonable resolutions with the court.
The Official Code of Georgia Annotated § 17-7-90 authorizes judges to issue immediately enforceable arrest warrants when the individual is not present at the ordered date and time. The hearing notice may be written or oral, and it may be mailed or presented in person.
Any failure to appear case can prompt a judge to issue a bench warrant. Even missed traffic violation hearings can lead to the signing of an arrest warrant as allowed by the O.C.G.A. § 40-13-62.
Once issued, law enforcement must execute the warrant, but officers do not seek the defendant to serve it. Generally, the police arrest the individual the next time they encounter them, such as during a traffic stop. At that time, in addition to possibly issuing a speeding ticket or other summons, the officer typically takes the driver into custody based on the outstanding warrant. The person must then post bail to be released.
In addition to ordering a person’s arrest, the judge may impose punishments on top of those relating to the original infraction. An individual charged with criminal misdemeanors or felonies who fails to appear for related hearings may face bail jumping charges, outlined in O.C.G.A. § 16-10-51. When the underlying offense is a misdemeanor, punishments include fines up to $1000 and additional prison time of one year or less. For felonies, the accused risks adding a maximum of $5000 in fines and one to five years in prison. In either scenario, drivers’ license revocation is also an option.
When required to appear pursuant to a traffic citation, O.C.G.A. §§ 40-5-56 and 40-13-63 empower the court to fine the driver up to $200, jail them for no more than three days, and suspend their driver’s license.
Running from the law only makes matters worse. If an individual charged with misdemeanors listed in O.C.G.A. § 16-10-51(c) attempts to avoid prosecution by leaving the state, authorities may add out-of-state bail jumping to the charged offenses. The identified infractions are broad in scope. Some examples include DUI, simple assault, bribery, and criminal trespass. The sentence for a guilty verdict on this count is imprisonment for one to five years and $1000 to $5000 in fines.
Using their knowledge of the law and familiarity with the local system, Fulton County’s failure to appear lawyers may help individuals avoid or mitigate the harshest of penalties.
You may have had a valid reason for missing your court date, but things only get more complicated if you do not address the matter quickly. Ignoring the mishap will not make it go away. Call an experienced Fulton County failure to appear lawyer today to help you explain your situation to the court and minimize any impact this mistake has on your life.