What Happens after a Failure to Appear in Court in Arizona

failure to appear

What Happens after a Failure to Appear in Court in Arizona

failure to appearIf you’re charged with a criminal offense in Arizona, you will have certain obligations. Appearing in court is one of them. Let’s imagine a theoretical scenario in which you miss your court appointment for whatever reason (you’re sick, you have family issues to attend to, etc.). What would happen and are you going to face serious consequences for your failure to appear?

Failure to Appear – a Second Crime

Failure to appear in court during a criminal case is a serious offense in Arizona.

Depending on the specifics of the situation, you can end up getting second criminal charge on top of the first one. According to A.R.S. 13-2507, failure to appear will be either a felony or a misdemeanor, depending on whether the underlying crime is a felony or a misdemeanor.

There could be additional consequences, which is why you simply cannot miss your court appointment.

In the event of a failure to appear, the Arizona court could issue a bench warrant for the arrest of the defendant. The court could also push for the forfeiture of posted bonds. This means the police is granted with the authority to arrest you and bring you to court. A person that’s arrested on a bench warrant will be held in jail until a new court date is scheduled to take place.

Even if you have committed a minor criminal offense, you cannot underestimate the appearance of going to court. As you can see, any negligence on your behalf can carry serious consequences. Instead of ignoring the situation, you should talk to your lawyer to understand the importance of the process and the eventual legal consequences in the event of failing to comply.

Penalties for Failure to Appear

Let’s take a look at the specific scope of penalties for those who knowingly and intentionally fail to appear in court.

If your case involves a felony charge, the failure to appear will be a Class 5 felony. The presumptive sentence for a Class 5 felony is 1.5 years in prison. There will also be significant financial penalties and fines. In the event of mitigating circumstances, the minimum prison sentence will still be the lengthy six months.

People who have been convicted of prior felonies and who fail to appear in front of court could face even more serious penalties.

Whenever misdemeanor offenses are linked to a failure to appear, the individual may be charged with an additional Class 2 misdemeanor. The maximum prison sentence for a Class 2 misdemeanor is four months. There will once again be a fine (up to 750 dollars).

Click here for the statute on failure to appear in the second degree in Arizona.

Can You Defend Yourself against Failure to Appear Charges?

It’s best to attend your court-appointed session. If you have to miss for any reason, you should discuss the situation with your criminal defense attorney.

There is a very narrow, limited range of defense scenarios that can work in the event of a failure to appear. If you receive proper notice about the court date, you know exactly when the session is taking place. This means you have omitted the court session knowingly – the very nature of the criminal offense.

If you do miss a court session, you have the right to file a motion to cancel the bench warrant. In this motion, you will need to explain the reasons for missing the court date. If the judge decides to cancer the bench warrant, the failure to appear charges will also be dismissed.

You need to have a very good reason for missing a court date in order to avoid additional charges. Being in an accident or dealing with death in the family, for example, will qualify as circumstances that could contribute to the dismissal of charges.

Click here for information on Arizona’s three strikes law.

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