You might not be worried about a citation you received, let’s say, for underage drinking or a speeding ticket. The charges are ridiculous anyway. If you don’t show up, what’s the big deal? You’ll just receive another fine in the mail, right?
If you have been given a citation and it says Notice to Appear, it’s a serious matter. You have an open, active case against you, and you are required to appear in court on the date set out in the citation. If you don’t have a car, take the bus, ride a bike, walk, do whatever you can to get there. If it’s simply impossible because you’re out of state or your car breaks down, then call the court as soon as possible. Explain the situation and request another court date. The court may not switch the date, but at least a record might exist of you trying rather than not showing up. Remember, failure to appear is a crime and it may be classified as a misdemeanor or felony charge.
What Happens If I Don’t Show up at Court?
If you don’t show up, the court will find that you Failed to Appear (FTA). At a minimum, the Arkansas court will issue a warrant for your arrest called a bench warrant. A bench warrant allows police to arrest you whenever they find you. Even for a minor infraction, the FTA could lead to jail time. Furthermore, because failure to appear for a court date is itself a crime, the court can find you guilty of failing to appear, even if your original charges are later dismissed.
Does a Bench Warrant Matter if I Live Outside of Arkansas?
If you live outside of Arkansas, a bench warrant can still affect you. If you’re pulled over for a traffic stop or apply for background checks, the bench warrant from Arkansas can appear. The bench warrant could also lead to loss of government benefits, such as financial aid, and the suspension of driving privileges.
What Should I Do If I Didn’t Show up to a Court Date and issued a Failure to Appear?
If you miss a court date, talk to a lawyer as soon as possible. Because there is a lag time between your absence and the time the judge issues a warrant, an attorney can file documents to have the warrant recalled or prevent the warrant from being issued. If you delay, and the bench warrant is issued, usually your only option is to turn yourself in on the outstanding warrant. The court will then schedule a new date for you to appear.
If you have questions about a Notice to Appear you’ve received, or you have missed a court appearance, contact us now or call Matt Dearmore at (479) 255-2567 to discuss your case.
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