Failure to Appear Defense
Houston Failure to Appear Defense :: The Law Office of Matthew D. Sharp
Texas law recognizes that it is not always in the best interest of everyone to have a defendant remain in jail until a court trial. As such, judges are allowed to impose reasonable bail, as long as the individual does not pose a threat to others, or is not deemed to be a flight risk. Being released on bail means you agree to appear at future court hearings as required, or be subject to additional civil and criminal penalties.
After a defendant has failed to appear in court in Houston, a judge may issue what is known as a bench warrant. According to the Texas Penal Code, this can lead to Class A misdemeanor charges, which could result in one year in jail and a monetary fine of up to $4,000. If the offense you failed to appear for was a felony, you will face an additional felony charge instead. The degree of felony will depend on the nature of the original charges.
Loss of Bail
In addition to criminal charges, you face the loss of any bail money that was put up in order to secure your release. A judge could also order your driver’s license be suspended, or that terms of your probation be modified accordingly. You could possibly face civil action if your lack of appearance results in another person’s loss of property as well.
There are a few defenses to charges of jumping bail, a few of which include:
- Being legitimately unaware of a court hearing
- Physically unable to attend a court hearing due to a serious illness or injury
- Incarcerated at another detention facility
- Called up for military service
If you have missed a court hearing for whatever reason, your best bet is to come forward rather than risk another arrest at a later time. An attorney can provide useful advice on the best way to go about doing this in order to ensure an outcome that is most favorable.