If someone is required to appear in court for a legal proceeding, and they fail to do so, a warrant may be issued for their arrest. This is known as an FTA or Failure To Appear warrant (CA Penal Code 1320 & 1320.5). This FTA warrant subjects you to arrest and an appearance before the judge. This means you answer the charge of why you didn't appear in court when you were summoned in addition to dealing with the matter you were originally meant to appear in court for.
If someone is arrested for a crime, they can be released from jail with a number of pretrial conditions. The release can be based on bail or bail bonds being paid towards the court. Regardless of whether the bail is required or not in each situation, there will be certain conditions needed for a pretrial release from jail. These conditions will always include a promise from the defendant to show up in court for any of the proceedings relating to the case against them. But if someone fails to appear in court for these proceedings, they will be charged with an FTA which means a warrant will be issued for their arrest. This is an additional charge to anything else the defendant was already facing.
A failure to appear charge is one type of “bench warrant,” which is where a warrant is issued “from the bench” or by a judge. These can occur for a number of different reasons and can come with a variety of charges. As an FTA can be classed as either a “felony” or “misdemeanor,” the person facing the charge can get three extra years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000 when it is classed as a felony. As a misdemeanor, the charge can result in an extra six months in county jail, and $1,000 in fines added on to the penalties the person was already charged with.
What is “Failure to Appear?”
FTA means there is a warrant for the person’s arrest as they failed to appear in court at a designated time. When given a citation for a traffic violation, you are asked to sign at the bottom of the citation which promises you will appear in court at a designated time. An FTA results in a bench warrant being issued for you. Reasons a bench warrant may be issued include:
- The defendant was ordered by the judge to appear in court at a specific time and place.
- The defendant was released from custody on bail and commanded by a judge to appear in court at a specific time and place.
- The defendant was released from custody and promised to appear in court.
- The defendant was released from custody by a police officer having signed a citation where they promised to appear in court.
- The defendant authorized their attorney to appear on their behalf, but the judge or court ordered the defendant to appear in court.
How Do You Get Convicted of an FTA?
To be convicted the court will have to prove the following:
- The defendant was originally charged with or convicted of a crime in the State of California.
- The defendant was subsequently released from custody.
- The defendant willfully failed to appear at a required court date.
- The defendant did this to “evade the process of the court.”
Information About an FTA Warrant
When a person is charged with a misdemeanor or crime, they will have the option to pay bail and get out of jail which gives them the chance to work through the legal proceedings against them. During this time, commonly known as “pretrial”, the defendant will need to comply with certain conditions, such as ensuring that they will appear for any court proceedings relating to the charges brought against them.
If the defendant fails to appear for any court proceedings related to their charges, this will result in an additional charge of Failure to Appear. This also results in the issuing of a bench warrant for their immediate arrest. If someone with an FTA warrant is arrested, they will need to appear before the judge who issued that arrest and explain to them why they failed to appear.
Information About a Bench Warrant
A bench warrant is an arrest warrant specifically issued by a judge. There can be many reasons why a judge would issue a bench warrant. This includes someone’s failure to appear for a court hearing or another proceeding made against them. A judge would issue a bench warrant for some of the following:
- Failing to appear in court for a trial, hearing, or arraignment.
- Not paying a ticket or a fine.
- Failing to comply with parole or probation conditions.
- Not complying with the conditions of the bail set out by the judge or court.
- Receiving an indictment by a grand jury, where the defendant is given formal notice that it is believed that they committed a crime.
What Are the Penalties and Jail Time for a Failure to Appear Warrant?
There are three distinct penalties for a “Failure to Appear” charge, and it depends on what you were originally charged with:
A misdemeanor where you are released on your own recognizance, you could face up to six months in county jail, and/or a fine of up to $1,000
Felony charges where you are released on your own recognizance, the penalties will rise up to a year in county jail, or up to three years in state prison, and/or a fine of up to $5,000.
Felony charges that required bail for release would receive up to a year in county jail, or up to three years in state prison, and/or a fine of up to $10,000.
Defenses for FTA Charges
There are many key elements of the failure to appear law in California, including charges relating to “willfulness” and “intent to evade,” the court can take various actions if you fail to appear.
If someone genuinely didn’t know about a court date or there was another factor preventing the person from making it to court, the court wouldn’t be able to prove that the person willfully or intentionally tried to miss their court date. As long as the person acted responsibly afterward and did their best to make things right with the court, along with proof, this would be ample evidence.
Also, if the person was released on their own recognizance and did not sign an agreement to return to court, this could result in a dismissal.
It’s important to craft a solid defense if you are being charged with a Failure to Appear, and a solid defense lawyer can work with you to bolster your evidence, but it's so important to provide proof.
How Much Is an FTA Bail Bond?
The cost of failing to appear in court is not cheap. The total cost can be as much as $10,000 if the defendant was out on bail before they failed to appear in court. Other consequences of failing to appear can also include extra added jail time if the defendant gets convicted of the crimes they were charged with when they originally failed to appear. When someone is arrested for an FTA, the judge may demand full payment of the bail for the initial charges in addition to the Failure to Appear charges before they can go free again.
The bail amounts vary, depending on factors including the severity of the charge and whether the charge/charges fall under the category of misdemeanor or felony charges. Some of the most common misdemeanor charges, PC violation/offense number, and their subsequent bail amounts are as follows:
For misdemeanor charges:
- Violation of Probation (PC 1203.2) is set at $5,000.
- DUI (Alcohol or Drugs) (PC 23152(a)) is set at $5,000.
- Carrying a Concealed Firearm (PC 12025(b)(7)) is set at $5,000.
- Interfering with Emergency Personnel (PC 148.2) is set at $5,000.
- Indecent Exposure (PC 314) is set at $5,000.
- Exhibiting a Firearm (PC 417(a)(2)) is set at $10,000.
- Possession of Underage Obscenity (PC 311.11(a)) is set at $10,000.
- Failure to Register as a Sex Offender (PC 290) is set at $10,000.
- Violation of a Protective Order (PC 273.65) is set at $10.000
- Assault Against a Peace Officer (PC 241) is set at $10,000.
For felony charges:
- Inducing a Minor to Commit a Drug Offense (HS 11343.2(a)(1)) is set at $10.000.
- Hate Crime (PC 422.75(a)) is set at $20,000.
- Using a Minor to Commit Drug Offense (HS 11380.1(a)(1)) is set at $20,000.
- Carrying Firearm During Commission of Crime (PC 12021.5(b)) is set at $20,000 – $30,000.
- Commission of Drug Offense Involving PCP (HS 11370.4(a)(2)) is set at $30,000.
- Commission of Drug Offense Near School (HS11353.6(b)) is set at $40,000
- Drug Offense Involving a minor 4 years or younger (HS11353.6(c)) is set at $40,000.
- Theft over $100,000 (PC 1203.045) is set at $50,000.
- Discharging a Firearm in the commission of Felony (PC 12022.53(c)) is set at $200,000.
Each bail charge, whether it's a felony or misdemeanor, can be a very expensive one. Before the defendant is allowed to go free after their arrest for a Failure to Appear, the fine will be added to the bail amounts that were required for the original charges that caused the initial FTA. As you can see, this amount can easily build up. The fines can go into the tens and even hundreds of thousands of dollars if someone chooses to not turn up for their court date. For many people who undergo this process, the cost of bail is more than they can comfortably afford to pay, which is why it’s so important to ensure that you can make bail, whatever the circumstances.
Find the Right Bail Bonds Company Near Me
If someone did not know about a court date or there were extenuating circumstances that prevented an individual from making it to court, as long as the person acts responsibly afterward and shows that they did their best to make things right, the court would not be able to prove the individual intentionally or willfully tried to miss their court dates. As the charges for an FTA can run into tens of thousands of dollars and can take a long time to conclude, this is why a bail bond can be necessary in these circumstances.
As part of the comprehensive services we provide, we can help you by posting a bond at the jail or court. This works to recall the warrant for the defendant and can take the pressure off throughout this difficult process so you can plan your next steps. So whether you have been due to attend your court date, and you missed it, and you now need to get a new court date, we can help by having the warrant recalled. Being charged for any crime can be a headache, and being charged for an FTA can add to the frustration. This is where we can help you avoid jail while awaiting trial.
If you are in the Los Angeles, Orange County, Riverside, San Diego, and San Bernardino areas, have had an FTA issued because you didn’t know you needed to attend court, or you want to secure freedom awaiting trial, you can reach out to 24 Hour Online Bail Bonds at 800-930-8999 for more information on bail bonds. Having an FTA can prove to be extra stress that you don’t need. Get in contact with one of our advisors and we can get to work on your FTA right away.