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Failure To Appear: Consequences of Failing To Appear After Being Bailed Out of Jail

A primary condition of release on bail is that the defendant must agree to attend all court proceedings, including the pretrial conference, hearing, trial, and sentencing phase. In other words, should the defendant skip court after bail, they will forfeit the money they paid as bail.

What happens if you posted bail on behalf of someone else, and they miss their court hearing? In this post, the team at Apex Bail Bonds discusses the consequences of failure to appear in court. Learn more about failure to appear and our bail bond services below.

Failure To Appear in Court: Potential Consequences

The courts take failure to appear for a sentencing hearing or any other court proceedings seriously, irrespective of the nature of the original crime. As a result, a defendant who doesn’t appear for a hearing may face various consequences:

Additional Criminal Charge

In addition to the original charge, a defendant who fails to show up in court may also face separate criminal charges:


      • Failure to appear (FTA): Missing a court appearance is a criminal offense. Whether FTA is a felony or misdemeanor depends on the nature of the original crime.

      • Contempt of court: Failure to appear may constitute disobedience to a court order, in which case the court may hold the defendant in contempt of court.

      • Bail jumping: If the prosecution can prove that the defendant intentionally failed to appear, they can charge the defendant with bail jumping as a felony or misdemeanor offense.

    Suppose the court convicts the defendant of any of the above charges. In this case, the defendant may face additional penalties.

    Bench Warrant

    When a defendant fails to appear after bailing out of jail, the judge may issue a bench warrant, in which case the police will search for the defendant and arrest them. The court implements this measure to ensure a defendant’s return to court.

    The court is more likely to issue a bench warrant in the case of a felony or misdemeanor, but the police can also arrest someone who is facing a traffic violation charge. After arrest, the defendant has to go through the booking process and arraignment hearing for the second time, where the court will set a bail amount for the defendant’s second release.

    Bail Forfeiture

    Bail is the amount a defendant posts as security for their return to court. Consequently, the judge will order that the defendant forfeits bail if they fail to appear in court.

    Suppose you posted bail on behalf of a friend or family member. In this case, the court has the discretion to freeze your assets, and you may lose ownership of your property, even if you actively tried to ensure that the defendant appears on their court date.

    Failure to comply with other bail restrictions may also result in bail forfeiture. For example, if the court ordered that the defendant may not leave the state while awaiting trial, and the defendant leaves the state, they may forfeit the bail they posted.

    During the bail hearing following rearrest, the judge will consider the defendant’s failure to appear when setting the bail amount. As a result, the bail amount may be considerably higher.

    If the court finds that the defendant is a flight risk due to their failure to appear after bail, the defendant may not be eligible for bail. In this case, the defendant will need to remain in jail for the remainder of the criminal proceedings against them.

    Public Records

    Not all criminal proceedings result in a guilty verdict. In practice, criminal proceedings against a defendant can have various outcomes, such as a dismissal with prejudice, a dismissal without prejudice, or a verdict of not guilty. In the case of general continuance, a judge may order the dismissal of a case after a specific period, subject to various conditions.

    However, suppose a case results in a dismissal without prejudice, but the defendant failed to appear for a court date, resulting in a bench warrant. While the defendant is not guilty of the original crime, their failure to appear constitutes a new offense, which may result in a fine or imprisonment sentence.

    A bench warrant is a court record that can appear during a background check. Even if a defendant is not guilty of a crime, failure to appear can significantly affect their employment prospects.

    Driver’s License Suspension

    If a defendant fails to appear in traffic court, the judge may issue a bench warrant for arrest, with notification to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). Then, the DMV will issue the defendant a two-month notice to resolve the matter. The DMV can suspend the defendant’s driver’s license if the defendant fails to resolve the ticket during this period.

    Defense Against Failure to Appear Charges

    A charge of failure to appear must demonstrate that:


        1. The defendant had proper notice to appear

        1. The defendant willfully did not appear

      Under the proper notice requirement, the court must mail the notice to the defendant’s attorney or address as it appears in the court records. The defendant is responsible for notifying the court of a change in address.

      Failure to appear in court is not wilful under specific circumstances such as natural disasters or severe health issues. However, the defendant must present evidence of the emergency that prevented them from attending court. For example, a collision with a lamp post may not qualify as an emergency.

      Speak to a Bondsman Now

      Do you have a loved one in jail facing a criminal charge? At Apex Bail Bonds, we are a large group of compassionate bail bondsmen who have successfully processed multiple bonds of six and seven figures. With our flexible bail bonds financing option and our 24/7 bail hotline, we can help secure your loved one’s prompt release. Contact us today.

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