The best excuse for a Failure to Appear?
What is a failure to appear. If you are supposed to be somewhere and you are not there it is failing to appear. If you were not in class you were skipping class. If you were in the military you were absent without leave. If you are a defendant and did not come to court you have committed failure to appear. In some counties this is treated as a violation of your bond. Let us see the example of a domestic violence charge. You were arrested, made bond and told to be in court on Thursday. Thursday came and you did not show up for court. The Judge revokes your bond and orders that you go to jail until the next court date. The judge issues an order called a capias. The capias is like an arrest warrant attached to the original domestic violence charge. That is one way to handle this. In many counties they prosecutor pursues a separate charge of failure to appear. It is in the law books and is not just made up. Failure to appear says that you were ordered to be in court and failed to appear without a valid reason.
What is a valid reason? Well Judge my favorite day time drama was on and I HAD to binge watch those twelve hours of my show. Not a good excuse. Judge there was a great concert last night and I did not get home until six this morning. There is not way I could be in your court at nine since I slept until 2 this afternoon. Not a good excuse. Judge, I was in jail in a neighboring county and the sheriff would not let me out to come to your court. Now there IS a good excuse. You can be found guilty of failure to appear if you did not show for court and do not have a good reason. I was in jail in another county. I physically could not go. There is the best excuse for a charge of failure to appear.
OK, lets say I am ordered to be in court but I am in jail at the same time. What do I do? First notify your lawyer as soon as possible. Jef, I am in jail and cannot use the phone. Who knows you are in jail? Do you have a spouse, loved one, family, someone who knows you are in jail? Have that person notify your lawyer as fast as possible. Jef, I do not have a lawyer yet. That could happen. Ask that person to contact the court, maybe the court clerk, or even the public defender’s office. Tell someone. Several times, in twenty three years of law, I have seen family members come to court. When the judge calls out the name of Loved One, they stand up. The Judge might say, “are you so and so.” Judge I am not. I am the mother, brother, loved one of the defendant. They cannot be here today because they are in the XXX county jail. So that solves it, right? Well, no. This is not the end of the story but at least you have established that you are not running away from the judge. You are not hiding. You did fail to appear in court but you have a valid reason, you could not be there and you have notified the proper persons as soon as you could.
What if there is no lawyer and no person who knew you were in the other county jail. In our made up story you were on bond for a charge of domestic violence. You are on bond. You have a bonding agent or bonding company. Go to that agent, call them, send them an email. Tell your bonding agent that you are out and need to get this situation cleared up asap. See what they can do to help. First ask if they will stay on your bond. You have not tried to run and are still taking responsibility regarding the bond. The agent may want you to come to court and show yourself to the judge and ask for the judge to “set aside” the capias or bond revocation. Jef, if I just show up in court the judge could take me into custody, right? Well, this is true. You are in danger of the judge just putting you in jail for failure to appear. Let me ask you this, when you come back in front of the judge do you want to say “I ran until you caught me,” or do you want to say, “I faced up to my responsibilities and respected the court.” I would suggest one of these ways is better than the other.
If you find yourself with a charge of failure to appear get help. If I have answered a question or helped you that was my goal. If I have confused you I am sorry. If you want to reach out and ask me a question just do so. There are many ways to reach me.
Go make today a great day.