Failing to appear in Virginia:
In the State of Virginia, a judge generally issues a bench warrant for arrest against an individual for Failure to Appear (FTA) when he/she misses the court date. When a person fails to appear before a court in Virginia for a criminal charge, it is a criminal offense that is separate from the crime with which such person was originally charged. The defendant who does not show up at the appointed time will have to pay the penalties, regardless of whether the initial charge was dismissed or acquitted. In any case, when a person has missed a court date, it is crucial to contact a lawyer as soon as possible to deal with the failure to appear charge and the subsequent bench warrant. If a person has a bench warrant issued against them, there is a chance of being picked up at any point of time.
Penalties for Failure to Appear in Virginia:
Significant penalties are imposed on the criminal charge of failing to appear. You may have missed the court date by mistake or you may have a genuine reason for missing it. To clear the arrest warrant you should act quickly and get the help of a Virginia criminal attorney. If there is a bench warrant out for your failure to appear (FTA), even a routine traffic stop will result in your arrest. If you ignore a bench warrant on the basis that you will deal with it at a time that is more convenient to you, if are picked up it may become very difficult to escape the consequences of a contempt of court charge.
The penalty for missing a court date differs based on whether the charge you have failed to appear is for a misdemeanor or a felony. If you have failed to appear for a misdemeanor charge, then you could be sentenced to up to one year in jail and may be imposed with a fine of up to $2500. If you have failed to appear for a felony charge, then you could be sentenced up to one to five years in jail and may be imposed with a fine of up to $2500.
Regardless of whether you have been charged with failing to appear for a felony or a misdemeanor, your failure to appear in court will result in forfeiting of your bond. Additionally it will result in a charge of violating your probation and your suspended sentence will be revoked. A contempt citation for failing to appear may be issued out of the judge’s discretion. The contempt citation has a penalty of fine up to $250 and up to 10 days in jail. However you should bear in mind that the Judge also has the option of imposing higher penalties by considering it as a misdemeanor or a felony failure to appear. There looms high uncertainty as to what a judge will do in a failure to appear case. Due to this reason, it is very important for you to attend all court dates or be equipped with documentation as to why you missed the court date.
In Virginia you will face serious consequences for failing to appear. Contacting an experienced Virginia criminal lawyer will be in your best interest, regardless of whether your failure to appear in Court was intentional or unintentional. The quicker you act, the easier it going to be for you to remain free from having a judge impose harsh penalties on you.
The penalties imposed for failure to appear are higher and are more serious than some of the criminal violations in Virginia. In instances where a person who was summoned fails to appear, there are things that can be done to minimize the penalties. One of the best things that can be done is hire a well qualified attorney who will put his best efforts to obtain a positive result, regarding the failure to appear charge as well as the original charge. For any questions, contact us today. It will help you to decide on a proper strategy regarding the case.
Article written by A Sris
These summaries are provided by the SRIS Law Group. They represent the firm’s unofficial views of the Justices’ opinions. The original opinions should be consulted for their authoritative content.