If you missed your court date for a criminal matter in Georgia should consult with an attorney as soon as possible to rectify the situation. Aside from the fact that missing court may have a negative effect on the outcome of your case, there may already be a warrant for your arrest. This could be true even if your appearance was only for a traffic ticket!
While both misdemeanors and felonies are crimes, a misdemeanor only carries a maximum possible jail time of 12 months. Misdemeanors include simple assault, petty theft, possession of marijuana less than one ounce, or driving under the influence (DUI) of drugs or alcohol. Common felonies include murder, rape, arson, kidnapping, aggravated assault, and the sale of illegal drugs. Repeated DUIs may also be regarded as a felony which, in turn, will result in a much harsher punishment. A felony carries a possible jail sentence of more than 12 months. Fines for felonies are also considerably higher than those for misdemeanors.
What Happens When You Miss Your Court Date
If you don’t show up in court, the judge will cite this as a failure to appear (FTA) and might issue what is known as a bench warrant against you. This authorizes law enforcement to locate and arrest you. This can be done at home, at work, or if you’re in college, on your campus. It is therefore vital to act immediately when you realize that you have missed your court date.
If you are arrested for an FTA, you will be taken to jail where you will remain until you appear before a judge. If the judge agrees to release you, it can be on your own recognizances or bail may be required. This depends on the severity of the original criminal charge for which you missed court. If bail was posted previously, it may have to be forfeited. In some instances, contempt of court charges may also be brought.
For any misdemeanor or felony cases, a date will be set to hear the FTA charge. This is a serious charge and it is essential to talk to a criminal defense attorney to discuss the consequences and any possible defense you might have. If the offense that you received an FTA for was traffic-related, the court will notify the Georgia Department of Drivers Services (DDS) and your driver’s license will be suspended. If you are caught driving with a suspended license, you will be arrested immediately and taken to jail. The possible penalties for driving on a suspended license are two days in jail, a minimum fine of $500, and an extended suspension of the license. Remember: this would be a new charge, in addition to the original charge for which you missed court.
What to Do if You Miss Your Court Date
If you already have an attorney, then contact him or her immediately. Depending on the offense, he or she may be able to resolve your FTA and get your driver’s license reinstated relatively easily. It becomes more complicated and costlier when an arrest for FTA has been made.
If you don’t already have a criminal defense attorney in Georgia, the Don Turner Legal Team can represent you and help resolve your FTA charge as well as the original charge you were facing. Contact us today to discuss your case and possible options!