You could face failure to appear charges if you do not go to court or pay your fine after receiving a traffic ticket in California. In this situation, you could face criminal charges. You could also have a bench warrant issued in your name. Fortunately, you may be able to clear your warrant.
Use this article to find out how to clear a failure to appear charge in California. Alternatively, you can review your legal options to resolve this situation with a criminal defense attorney near you. A lawyer can navigate this process on your behalf and pursue a positive outcome in your case.
Reasons to Clear a Failure to Appear
If you fail to appear in court after receiving a traffic ticket, it may have serious repercussions for you in California. You may face criminal charges under Vehicle Code 40508a. This charge will likely be a misdemeanor, even if your initial ticket was for an infraction. In this way, failing to pay the ticket or appear in court significantly increases the seriousness of the initial violation.
The judge presiding over your case could also issue a warrant for your arrest. This warrant is a “bench warrant.” Bench warrants do not expire or go away over time. The warrant remains on your record until you clear it. This could be months or even years later if you do not take action to remedy the situation and the police do not stop you sooner.
A law enforcement officer could arrest you anytime for such a warrant. Once they arrest you, the officer could bring you to court and before a judge. For this reason, you may want to focus on clearing a bench warrant for failure to appear as quickly as possible. You do not want to face arrest, especially at an inopportune time. When you address the issue yourself, you can work based on your own timeline.
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So How Can You Get a Failure to Appear Dismissed in California?
To clear a bench warrant for failure to appear, you should contact a traffic violations lawyer in Los Angeles. In some situations, a lawyer may be able to go to court and clear the warrant on your behalf. Criminal defense attorneys who often handle traffic violations in your area are likely familiar with the judges and court staff. They know how to navigate these cases, resolve the initial citation, and deal with the warrant.
However, you should be aware that you may have to go to court yourself, especially if you face severe charges. A lawyer may be able to look over your case to determine if you can avoid a visit to the courtroom or not. If you must make a court appearance, your attorney will be there to represent you. They will tell you what to expect and walk through the process by your side.
Keep in mind that you cannot simply wait for a bench warrant to expire. These warrants remain on your record until you clear them with the court. Focus on taking immediate action to clear a bench warrant here in California. You should connect with a criminal defense attorney to start this process. This is a better option than possibly getting arrested based on a bench warrant.
Methods to Handle Charges for Failure to Appear in California
You can face criminal charges if you fail to appear in court as ordered in California. This criminal charge will not clear at the same time as your bench warrant. You may need to resolve this charge separately. You could face penalties for failure to appear for even a relatively minor traffic infraction if you fail to pay the ticket or go to court for the citation.
Our clients often come to us with a list of questions focused on the penalties they may face. How long do you go to jail for failure to appear in California? Do you need to pay a fine? An attorney can answer these concerns and clearly outline what you can expect during this process.
Failure to appear charges are generally misdemeanors. This is more serious than an infraction and could mean spending time in the county jail after an arrest. Failure to handle a charge for failure to appear may lead to:
- Fines of up to $1,000
- Jail time of up to six months
It is important to note that you may not face significant fines or jail time if you do not have a criminal record and have never committed similar violations. You may be placed on probation instead of sent to jail if you are convicted of failure to appear. Your attorney may be able to negotiate probation, time served if police arrested you, or other more positive outcomes than going to the county jail.
However, this is not the case for all individuals convicted under VC 40508a. You may want to start building a defense against the charges you are facing right away. A lawyer could also help you handle the initial traffic violation that led to your VC 40508a charges and turn yourself in for the bench warrant issued based on your failure to appear.
As you can see, there are three parts to this type of legal issue. Your attorney will guide you through each of them and fight for the best possible outcome for you in each. This includes:
- Your initial traffic infraction, possibly with fines or other penalties
- The charge for failure to appear, which includes more significant penalties
- The bench warrant issued for your arrest
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Possible Defenses to Failure to Appear Charges
If the courts accused you of failure to appear in Los Angeles, a lawyer may be able to construct a defense for you. You may have your warrant cleared and your charges dismissed if your lawyer demonstrates that you did not intentionally avoid your court date. For example, your lawyer may be able to show that you failed to appear in court because:
- You did not know you had a court date
- You were experiencing a medical emergency that prevented you from attending court
- You were involved in an accident that kept you out of court
- There were other legitimate, immediate reasons why you did not appear
In these situations, the judge may drop your charges and clear your warrant. You may also resolve your charges if you demonstrate that you never promised to appear in court. However, this may be difficult, as generally signing and accepting a ticket qualifies as agreeing to appear in court or to pay your fine.
Of course, the best option is to connect with a California traffic law attorney who can represent you in court and appear during your initially scheduled court date. However, we understand that things happen, and sometimes people miss a court date. Our lawyers can help you navigate this process and clear your failure to appear.
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Learn How to Clear a Failure to Appear Warrant in California
How do you clear a failure to appear warrant in California? You may need to go to court to clear this warrant. In some cases, a lawyer can clear it for you. Find out more about your specific situation by contacting Simmrin Law Group. Call or complete our online contact form to learn more.
A member of our team can provide you with a free consultation today. Michael Simmrin and his team are ready to go to work on your case.