In North Carolina, failure to appear – missing your court date – can have serious consequences, even if it happens accidentally. It is essential to show up to court on time, and having an attorney on your side who is experienced in appearing in court and who will help you know when and where you are scheduled to appear is very important.
What is Failure to Appear?
If you fail to attend court on the day you are required to, your case will be marked as “called and failed.” After a specific amount of time, a Failure to Appear (FTA) order will be issued, and you may receive an additional FTA fee if you are found guilty.
The consequences of failing to appear in court vary based on the type of crime you have been charged with.
Failure to Appear for a Traffic Ticket
If you missed your court hearing for a traffic offense, you generally have twenty days to make up for the court date you missed. After twenty days, the judge may issue an FTA and add a $200 late fee to what you already owe for the original violation.
The FTA will also be reported to the NC Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), which may revoke your license if you do not resolve the FTA by the set deadline. If you continue to fail to appear, your license will be revoked. You will face additional charges if you get pulled over with a revoked license.
Failure to Appear for Misdemeanor Charge
Your bond is forfeited if you are released on bail for a misdemeanor charge but fail to appear at your court hearing. The judge may issue a warrant for your arrest and view you as a flight risk once you are in custody. This means you will not be released on bond and will remain jailed until your case is over. You may also face up to six months in jail for the FTA.
Failure to Appear for Felony Charge
Felony charges are more severe than misdemeanors, and thus failure to appear for a felony comes with additional consequences. After you fail to appear in court on felony charges, you will receive an additional charge with up to eight months of extra jail time if you’re a first-time offender. An active warrant will be issued for an arrest, and if you are pulled over, you will be arrested for the FTA and face additional, more severe penalties.
Dealing with a Failure to Appear
FTA charges do not go away on their own. If you are trying to avoid court, you will eventually get caught. If you have missed your court date, contact an experienced North Carolina criminal defense lawyer to discuss your options. Whatever the reason for the FTA was, an attorney can assist by explaining your absence to the court, helping to minimize the severity of the consequences of the FTA.
Be Proactive and Contact Starling, Rodriguez & Associates ASAP
The best way to mitigate the severity of the consequences you may face for an FTA is to speak to an attorney before you turn yourself in. You should not go to court or to the police without an attorney to protect your rights and prevent you from saying or doing something that could result in more criminal charges.
Contact our criminal defense team today if you have been charged with a crime or if you have failed to appear in court to answer for your charges: 910-333-9000.