Failure to appear for your court date in Phoenix, Scottsdale, Mesa, Tempe, or any other Arizona city, can result in serious repercussions. The severity of these penalties differs according to each unique situation. That is why you should avoid missing your court date in Arizona at all costs, even during the current COVID-19 restrictions.
A Maricopa County justice of the peace recently stated that he signed 12 misdemeanor arrest warrants for each defendant having missed 2 court dates (actual court date and then an Order to Show Cause date).
“Reasons to miss court dates are currently minimized because we are allowing everyone to appear by telephone. People are also free to contact our court by email. Hopefully, these people will contact our court before they get arrested if for no other reason than COVID-19 has made going to jail, even for less than 24 hours, especially problematic.” —Justice of the Peace Gerald A. Williams
If you are dealing with the fallout of failure to appear in court in Arizona or if you have been charged with any sort of crime, our Phoenix criminal defense lawyer can help.
Failure to Appear Can Result in Criminal Charges
A criminal charge or the issuance of a traffic ticket often spurs an order for the accused party to appear in court. In some instances, the accused party facing criminal charges must appear in court several times. Criminal cases usually involve an arraignment, several pre-trial conferences, the trial, sentencing and other proceedings.
If the failure to appear is in connection with a felony charge, you can be charged with a first degree class 5 felony (A.R.S.13-2507). One can also receive a charge called contempt of court, defined as the crime of not obeying the court’s order, also known as a misdemeanor.
If you fail to appear in connection with a misdemeanor or petty offense, you can receive a second degree class 2 misdemeanor charge (A.R.S.13-2506).
Court Fines for Failure to Appear
Missing your court date can carry significant financial penalties and fines. Class 1 misdemeanors can result in $2,500 in fines plus a prison sentence of up to 6 months. A class 2 misdemeanor can carry up to $750 in fines in addition to a 4-month prison sentence.
Bench Warrant for Missing a Court Date
Aside from receiving a failure to appear, the court can take action against you in the form of a bench warrant for your arrest. This means authorities can take you into custody at any moment after the courts issue a warrant.
It could happen at a traffic stop when a police officer pulls up your warrant information in a database. It is also possible for the police to travel to your place of employment or domicile to execute the warrant for your arrest. Once arrested, you might have to remain in jail until a hearing on the failure to appear in court is conducted.
If a warrant has been ordered for a failure to appear (FTA Warrant), a criminal defense lawyer can be retained to file a motion to quash the warrant to remove you from warrant status and reset your case for a new court date where you and your criminal lawyer can appear to resolve any outstanding issues.
Bail Revocation and Back to Jail for Failure to Appear
If you fail to appear to your court date in Arizona while admitted to bail for a criminal charge, your bail could be revocated. If that happens, you will return to jail. This also means the court could order any bond money forfeited (A.R.S. 13-3858).
Driver’s License Suspension for Failure to Appear
Failure to appear for court in Arizona may result in the court ordering the Motor Vehicle Division (MVD) to immediately suspend your driver’s license. This consequence is more than likely if your charge concerns a traffic violation, such as failure to appear in court for a speeding ticket or for more serious criminal charges like a DUI.
If the license suspension is ordered due to a failure to appear for a civil traffic case, the remedy is to file a motion with the court to set aside a default judgment. From there, you (or your lawyer) will have the opportunity to provide a just explanation as to why you missed your court once you appear before a judge. At such time, the judge may reverse the order to suspend your driver’s license.
What to Do If I Miss My Arizona Court Date?
Life happens and appointments are forgotten and missed. However, the failure to appear in court in Arizona can be a serious criminal charge and has severe collateral consequences (including suspended driving privileges) that necessitate legal assistance from a proven criminal defense team.
If a warrant has been issued for your arrest or you have been accused of a crime for failing to appear in court, contact an experienced Phoenix criminal defense lawyer at the Lerner & Rowe Law Group for a FREE consultation. We offer affordable payment plans. Plus, our criminal defense attorneys are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to take your call. So, don’t wait, you can reach us by dialing 602-667-7777 or chat with a live representative now.