What Happens If I Miss My Criminal Court Date In Florida?
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At the Law Office of Denise Miller, our Stuart Florida criminal defense attorney has been operating at full capacity during the COVID-19 pandemic, ensuring our clients have access to the legal representation they deserve during this public health crisis.
During the quarantine, and as Florida enters phase two of its reopening plan this week, the courts have also fully fulfilled their responsibility to operate while protecting the health and well-being of the public, the attorneys, judges, and court staff.
While most criminal court appearances were either rescheduled or effectively conducted remotely or using a hybrid approach in which some participants appear in-person and some appear remotely, missing a court date is never an option in Florida.
There are consequences to missing a criminal court date, some of which can be very serious — including being charged with failure to appear and having a warrant issued for your arrest — requiring you to handle the original charges you were facing, and the additional failure to appear charges.
What Is A Failure To Appear Charge In Florida?
Failing to appear to a scheduled court date is considered a crime.
Florida law states missing a court date after being released on your own recognizance, posting bond, receiving a notice to appear, or a bench warrant is grounds for a law enforcement officer to arrest you.
Florida courts take failure to appear charges seriously to deter people from becoming flight risks, which means they will immediately enforce a warrant for your arrest upon your absence from a scheduled hearing whether it is remote or in-person.
What Are The Penalties For Failing To Appear In Florida Criminal Court?
Florida Legislation states that while a failure to appear charge is typically a first-degree misdemeanor, it can be increased to a felony if the original charge you failed to appear in court for was a felony.
The penalties for a first-degree misdemeanor include:
- Up to $1,000 in fines
- Up to 12 months in jail
If you failed to appear to a court date for a felony charge, while awaiting sentencing, or while your sentence is pending review, you will be charged with a third-degree felony.
The maximum penalties for a third-degree felony include:
- Up to $5,000 in fines
- Up to five years of imprisonment
Can The Police Come To My House And Arrest Me For Failing To Appear In Court?
A failure to appear warrant will remain in effect indefinitely until you turn yourself in or are arrested, whichever comes first.
With the warrant in effect, law enforcement officials can arrest you on sight and take you into custody.
This typically occurs when you are pulled over during a routine traffic stop, and the officer runs your license — which will return with a notice that a judge has issued a warrant for your arrest.
Depending on the severity of the initial charge, law enforcement could take things into their own hands and go to your home or place of employment to execute the warrant.
At the Law Office of Denise Miller, our criminal defense attorney in Martin County understands that the past couple of months have been challenging for everyone — including those who had their court appearances delayed or restructured to appear remotely. If you have missed a court date or have an upcoming criminal court date but have yet to retain counsel, contact our experienced Stuart criminal defense lawyer today by calling (772) 934-6007 to ensure your rights are protected going forward.