After an arrest, the presiding judge can grant you bail and, once paid, you’re free to go and prepare to defend the charge against you. You are also legally obligated to appear for every court date, which is vital for your freedom and a requirement if you want to get your bail money back. That is why before you’re released on bail, you will have to sign a Promise to Appear (PTA) form.
Missing a court date presents several consequences for you. Whether you missed it intentionally or not, you may face the following problems:
Legal Consequences of Missing a Court Date
On top of the things you’re charged with, missing a court date compounds your legal troubles. The penalties vary, but if you miss a court date for the first time, the court may:
- Note your non-appearance, adjourn your court date, and reschedule it for another time with a warning that further action will be taken if you fail to attend again.
- Issue a bench warrant with discretion, which will be canceled if you appear in court at the rescheduled time.
- Issue a bench warrant without discretion, which means the court may charge you for Failure to Appear (FTA).
Being charged with FTA can affect the resolution of your original charges. You may suffer other penalties such as fines and a jail sentence that can last from a few days to a year or more.
Missing Your Court Date Affects Your Bail Bond
If you get arrested for misdemeanors, the varying amounts of bail are small enough that you may be able to afford them out of pocket.
However, if you have been taken in for a felony charge in Utah, the bail amount ranges between $5,000 and $25,000 and that is if the judge won’t intervene and raise the bail amount for some reason or other. In cases like this, you might need the services of a bail bondsman to get you out of a Park City jail.
When you take out a bail bond, the bail bond company will front the amount to pay for your bail. You only have to pay them 10 percent of your bail amount. So, if your bail amounts to $1,000 and you took out a bail bond, you only have to pay your bail bond company $100. You also have to present collateral that is equal to the amount of your bail.
Convenient as the concept of bail might be, the regulations surrounding it are strict, including needing to attend all court dates or risk forfeiting bail money to the court. If this happens, you will not get your bail money back. If you used a bail bond service, the bail bond company will have to seize the collateral to make up for the bail money that was forfeited to the court.
What to Do If You Can’t Make It to Your Court Date
To prevent missing a court date, you must review them right after being given to you before your release. This way, you’ll be able to take the dates into consideration and make sure you’re free to appear in court.
If, for some reason, you cannot attend, you must inform your lawyer right away. They will be able to present you with your next course of action. If you get arrested, keep in mind that you are now involved in legal proceedings. This means doing everything you can not to break the law, including showing up in court when you’re needed.