It may have been a mistake, an oversight, or intentional, but you failed to show up for a court appearance for whatever reason. You may now be in legal jeopardy without dedicated help from a defense attorney. Blowing off a court-ordered appearance is a crime in Tennessee. A Chattanooga failure to appear lawyer may help you explain your situation to the judge and avoid further punishment.
When the court sends a notice to appear, a judge expects the recipient to be there. The reason that the court requests a person’s presence does not matter at all. Whether the court has scheduled a bail hearing, arraignment, preliminary hearing, trial, sentencing, or any other matter, failing to appear in Chattanooga is not okay. The court’s notice is not optional but is an order which is legally binding, carrying potential consequences.
The judge, prosecutor, and maybe even witnesses will be present, yet they cannot proceed because of a critical party’s absence. This situation is not only a waste of the court’s time but may also add to the criminal charges already leveled against the accused.
In Chattanooga, a suspect who fails to appear for court may have committed a Class A misdemeanor. The court may impose fines up to $2,500 and prison terms of up to 11 months and 29 days. Penalties for failure to appear run consecutively, or are added onto, any other punishment imposed. So, Chattanooga suspects convicted of both the underlying crime and failure to appear may face even harsher results.
In addition to ordering fines and jail time, the court has other options to redress a Chattanooga suspect’s failure to appear.
Revoking an accused’s bail or changing the terms of release will have an immediate impact. Issuing a bench warrant probably will not because, in most instances, the police do not go out and serve the warrant. Nevertheless, a bench warrant could have serious ramifications.
Bench warrants never go away. Years later, a Chattanooga resident could have a routine interaction with the police, such as a traffic stop, and end up arrested on the outstanding warrant for failure to appear. The unresolved warrant could also haunt Chattanooga residents during background checks to obtain employment, loans, or admission to college.
While a Chattanooga party’s absence may frustrate the court, not every failure to appear is willful defiance. Legitimate reasons for the absence may exist such as an illness, accident, family emergency, or similar circumstance out of the defendant’s control.
However, continuing to ignore the court after failing to appear generally makes the situation worse. Explaining the circumstances promptly and requesting to reschedule the appearance shows the court respect and could go a long way in settling the matter. Seeking Chattanooga defense counsel’s advice sooner rather than later allows greater flexibility in identifying beneficial next steps.
Once you realize you missed a court date, you may feel a pang of uneasiness. What does your failure to appear mean for your case? Just forgetting about it is not a viable option because blowing off the court will make things worse. A Chattanooga failure to appear lawyer could assist you in crafting a plan to apologize to the court and get your case back on track. To begin this process, give us a call today.