The Reality of Failing To Appear In Court In Texas
When a person is given a summons to appear in court in the state of Texas, they are entering into a type of obligation with their county and state. According to this obligation, that person is expected to appear in court at the appointed date and time. They are also expected to appear at court in a certain manner. For example, they are expected to be sober, dressed appropriately and cooperate with the rules of the courtroom.
Failing to abide by these rules can result in criminal punishments. Check out the following information to learn more about what can happen if you fail to show up for your court date in Texas.
When Do I Have To Appear In Court?
You may be summoned to appear in court for a variety of reasons. In most cases, you will be required to appear in court as the result of some sort of criminal proceeding. For example, if you are arrested and charged with a crime, you will usually be given a court date which you are required to attend.
This summons may be issued under a variety of circumstances. Frequently, a person is given a summons to appear in court after they have been released on bail. They may also be sent a letter asking them to appear in court at a certain date and time if they have been charged with a minor infraction, such as a traffic ticket. It should be noted that a person can be summoned to court whether or not they have posted bail or if they have been offered the opportunity to post bail.
In either case, a court summons means that you must be at the courtroom at the appointed date and time or you could face legal consequences. If you receive an official document which requires you to appear in court, you can assume that the document represents your obligation to appear at the court at the date and time that the document indicates.
What Happens If I Fail To Appear In Court?
Before proceedings in court take place, a representative of the court will conduct a roll call. They will go through a document which states the names of all the people who are required to appear in court at that date and time and call out these names. Anyone who does not show up for this roll call may not be admitted to the courtroom and their absence will be recorded.
If this happens, several things may occur. First, the court will record the absence and indicate that the person should be charged for failure to appear. When this happens, the court may issue a bench warrant for that person’s arrest.
A bench warrant is an official document which states that law enforcement officers are allowed to arrest you and place you in jail for failure to appear in court. This means that a law enforcement officer, usually a warrant officer, has the legal authority to come to your home or your place of work in order to arrest you and take you to jail.
Not only can you be booked into jail, you may also face additional criminal charges and penalties for your failure to appear.
There are several penalties that can be applied to you if you don’t show up to court on time. After a bench warrant has been issued for your arrest, you will be sent a document from the court to inform you that the warrant has been taken out. This document will usually instruct you to report to the court immediately or face arrest.
If you disregard this document and the warrant, the police may come to your home or your job and place you under arrest.
According to Section 38.10 of the Texas Penal Code, if you have been charged with a misdemeanor crime greater than a Class C offense, you may be charged with a Class A misdemeanor for failure to appear. This is punishable by:
- Up to one year in county jail
- A fine of up to $4000
If you were charged with a Class C misdemeanor or an infraction that was punishable by a fine only, you can be charged with another Class C misdemeanor for failure to appear. This can lead to:
- A fine of up to $500
If you were originally charged with a felony offense, you may be charged with a state jail felony for failure to appear. This is punishable by:
- Up to two years in state jail
- A fine of up to $10,000
It is important to note that the charge for failing to appear in court will be added onto your original charge. This means that you could face a punishment for the original crime and the additional crime of failure to appear. Also, if you fail to appear in court, a judge may decide that you are uncooperative or a flight risk. This may result in your bail being revoked or denied and your driver’s license being revoked. The judge may also be less likely to be lenient with you when you are prosecuted for your original charge.
If your bail is revoked or denied, you may be forced to wait in jail until your next court date occurs.
According to the Texas Penal Code, you may be excused from penalties for failure to appear if you had a valid reason for the absence. This valid reasons may include:
- You were in the hospital or extremely ill or injured
- You were incarcerated at the time of the summons
- You never received notification to appear in court
- You were summoned for military duty at the time of the court summons
While these defenses may keep you safe from additional charges for failure to appear, it is not always easy to excuse a missed court date. For example, if you claim that you simply couldn’t find a ride to court or you forgot about your appearance, the judge isn’t likely to accept your excuse.
If you miss a court date, your best bet is to consult with an attorney immediately to discuss your options.