Failure to Appear
In many criminal cases, defendants are required to attend a number of hearings and court appearances in Texas. These appearances keep the defendant and the attorneys informed of progress in the case. They also serve the purpose of keeping the court aware of the defendant’s whereabouts.
By law, defendants are required to appear in person at the date and time that the court sets. A defendant who is not in court at the appointed date and time may be criminally charged with failure to appear, also known as jumping bail. This can lead to a large array of problems, including additional criminal charges being filed.
Legal Penalties for Jumping Bail
Neglecting to appear in court at the appointed time in Houston, Texas can have serious consequences. These penalties will be added on to the criminal charges that have already been filed in the case.
The penalties for jumping bail are based on the type of crime for which the original charges were filed. For example, failure to appear for a misdemeanor offense will be punished less severely than missing a court date for a felony charge.
Some penalties are:
- Missing a court date for a Class C misdemeanor can be fined up to $500
- Jumping bail for a Class A or Class B misdemeanor can lead to a year in jail
- Missing a court date for a felony charge can lead to two to 10 years in prison
Legal Defenses for Failure to Appear
Sometimes circumstances prevent a person from showing up in court at the appointed time. Occasionally, these circumstances are so abrupt that they leave no time to notify the court about the situation.
If someone has a legitimate reason to miss a court date, like a medical emergency, they may not be penalized for their absence. Other situations, like attending a funeral for a family member, may or may not count as valid excuses depending on the court.
It may also be a valid excuse if the court date was scheduled at the same time as another obligation of a criminal sentence, like community service or a parole meeting.
A Houston Attorney Might Be Required
Individuals who have skipped court could be in a lot of legal trouble, depending on the circumstances. If you have been accused of jumping bail, then it’s time to get an attorney if you don’t already have one. Your defense lawyer can instruct you on the best way to approach the situation so you don’t get in more legal trouble.