What Does Failure to Appear Mean in the State of Texas?
Failure to appear is also known as “bail-jumping” in situations where you were required to post bail. Depending on the original charge, failure to appear can be a misdemeanor or a felony. When you do not show up for a mandated court appearance, the judge may issue a bench warrant for your arrest. Anytime the police run a check on your name, the warrant will come up. A licensed bail bondsman can also track you down and take you to jail. Some police departments now have license plate scanners that allow them to run your plates and see whether you have an outstanding warrant.
It is always better to deal with your failure to appear or bail jumping case before you get caught to avoid being arrested at work or while you are having dinner with your family. Your attorney can present your defense for missing your court date, then negotiate with the prosecutor for a new court date and leniency on the penalties associated with the failure to appear. Once you are arrested for failure to appear, your opportunities to argue for a reasonable outcome become more limited.
What Are the Potential Consequences of Failure to Appear Under Texas Law?
In general, the charges for failure to appear include:
- If your original charge was a Class C misdemeanor offense, your failure to appear will result in another Class C misdemeanor charge, which is punishable by a fine of up to $500.
- If your original charge was a Class A or a Class B misdemeanor offense, your failure to appear will result in a Class A misdemeanor charge which is punishable by up to one year in county jail.
- When your original charge was a felony offense, a failure to appear will result in third-degree felony charges which are punishable by 2-10 years in a Texas state prison.
If you are charged with failure to appear, the judge may order forfeiture of your bond. Unfortunately, this means the bondsman loses the money put up for your release from jail, and you are indebted to the bail bondsman for the total amount (i.e., if your bond was $10,000 and you put up 10 percent, or $1,000 if you “jump bail” then you owe the bail bondsman the entire $10,000).
What Are the Most Common Defenses for Failure to Appear?
While there are few defenses a judge will consider when you fail to appear at a scheduled court date, when the defense comes from an attorney, the judge is more likely to accept it. It is your obligation to present evidence that backs up your failure to appear, which usually involves unavoidable circumstances that were beyond your control. A reasonable excuse for failure to appear could include illness, a death in the family, your car broke down, being in jail in another location, involvement in a car accident, hospitalization of you or a close family member, or a failure on the part of the court to give you notice of the time, date, and location for your court appearance.
How Can a Criminal Defense Attorney from Whalen Law Office Help with Failure to Appear Charges?
A Texas conviction for a failure to appear becomes a part of your criminal record. Such a conviction will also affect your conditions of release if you are charged with another crime in the future and the conviction will appear on a background check for employment or housing. When you have a Whalen Law Office criminal defense attorney contact the court on your behalf, we can potentially arrange for you to appear in front of the judge rather than suffer the indignity of being arrested. Contact Whalen Law Office for a failure to appear charge as well as any misdemeanor or felony criminal charge. We are experienced, knowledgeable, and always go the extra mile to help our clients.