In Colorado, it’s required to show up to your court date. The term for missing your court date is failure to appear (FTA). There are many consequences for FTAs, such as an arrest warrant. It’s crucial to appear in court so you don’t receive further punishments in addition to the penalties for the crime you committed. Court dates can be inconvenient, but you must appear before the judge.
If you fail to appear in court on your required court date, there are some ways you can deal with the punishment. For example, a lawyer can help you deal with the penalties of a failure to appear. Having a criminal defense lawyer can make handling your FTA easier. Have you committed a crime in Colorado? The criminal defense team at Chaput Law can help. We’ll defend you in the Colorado criminal courts, minimize your consequences, and we’ll handle your FTA punishment.
Call Chaput Law today to schedule your free consultation.
Do I Need to Show Up in Court?
In most cases, you need to show up in court. However, some circumstances allow you to skip your appearance.
For example, if you’ve hired a criminal defense lawyer, they can represent you in court. Having legal representation on your case means you can skip minor court dates as long as your lawyer is there in your place. On the other hand, if you opt for a public defender, you’ll likely have to go to every court date. Public defenders are not obligated to show up for you in case you can’t make an appearance.
If you don’t know when your court date is, make sure you call the court to find out. Knowing your court date can help you avoid a needless FTA penalty. If you have a valid reason for not being able to appear in court, you may be able to reschedule your appointment. Call the court as soon as possible to see if they can assign you a new court date.
What Happens if I Fail to Appear in Court?
The most common penalty for an FTA in Colorado is a bench warrant. Bench warrants essentially arrest warrants for not showing up to court on scheduled court dates. A bench warrant means you can be arrested at any time. For instance, the police may come to your home to charge you, or you could be arrested during a routine traffic stop.
After you’ve been arrested, you’ll likely spend time in jail until your court hearing. An exception is if you pay out your bail and other jail fees and court costs. However, you may be incarcerated without bail. It’s also important to note that there’s no statute of limitations on bench warrants. Once you receive your warrant, it will not expire.
If you get a bench warrant, it’s best practice to contact a lawyer as soon as possible so they can help you handle it.
Other Consequences for Failure to Appear in Court
While a bench warrant is the most common punishment for a failure to appear, there are other types of penalties, such as:
- Bail forfeiture: If you posted bail after your initial arrest and failed to appear in court, you will have to forfeit your bail. Your bail will likely increase if it’s needed for future legal proceedings.
- Probation: If you fail to appear in court, you may be penalized with probation. Additionally, if you were already on probation when you missed your court date, you may be put in jail or given more fines.
- Fines: Another consequence of FTA is increased fines or fees.
- Suspension of your driver’s license: Your driver’s license may be suspended if you miss your court date.
Is Failure to Appear in court a Crime?
In some states, failure to appear is a crime. Depending on the state, it could be considered a misdemeanor or a felony. However, in the Colorado courts, this is not the case. While an FTA isn’t a crime in Colorado, it’s a contempt of court. By not appearing, you have disobeyed an order of the court, which can result in a brief jail sentence or additional fines.
How Do I Deal with Failure to Appear?
The easiest way to avoid missing your court date is to know when the date is and reschedule it if you can’t make it. However, that’s not always possible. If you receive a bench warrant, it may be best to deal with it yourself by resolving the warrant with the court before being arrested. You’ll likely receive some punishment, but the judge may reduce your penalties.
Finally, your best option is to hire a criminal defense lawyer as soon as you miss your court date. They can file a motion to quash your FTA. If the court approves this motion, you’ll go to a hearing. There, you will tell the judge why you missed your court appearance. If the judge decides in your favor, they may recall your bench warrant.
Do You Need a Criminal Defense Lawyer?
Dealing with a criminal defense charge can be overwhelming. If you miss your court date, your case will become even more complicated. Consider calling a criminal defense lawyer at Chaput Law. We’ll advocate for you and help you deal with your bench warrant and other consequences.
Call today to schedule a free consultation.