What Happens If You Fail to Appear in Court?


Quick Answer

While the laws on penalties for failure to appear in court vary from state to state, generally the person could be charged with a crime, Nolo says. Failure to appear is a misdemeanor that could be filed against the person who failed to appear, and contempt of court is the crime for failing to obey a court order, also a misdemeanor.

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Full Answer

Additionally, other things can happen to a person who fails to appear in court. A judge can issue a bench warrant, which is a warrant for the arrest of the individual who failed to appear, Nolo explains. For serious criminal cases, the judge may also order the police to go to the person's home or work and execute the warrant. Once arrested, the person could stay in police custody until a hearing is scheduled.

A person who fails to appear in court may also have his driver's license suspended, according to Nolo. The judge can order the license suspension once someone has failed to appear, and the suspension may be effective until the person appears and addresses his failure to appear. Also, a judge could impose a bond revocation on bond posted in the original court matter. If the court did not originally require the person to post bond, the judge could change the conditions of the release by requiring a bond be posted.

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