Drivers in California may be issued a traffic ticket if a law enforcement officer believes they broke the law. These tickets come with information about the fine you may have to pay. Tickets generally also include a day that you must go to court to resolve the ticket if you do not simply pay the fine.
What happens if you fail to appear in court for a traffic ticket in California? Use this article to review the repercussions of ignoring a court date in California. Focus on getting help to resolve a ticket by contacting the Simmrin Law Group at (310) 997-4688.
A Bench Warrant Could be Issued for You
The judge in your case may expect you to appear in court after you are issued a ticket in California. If you do not show up at the date and time you are supposed to appear, the judge may issue a bench warrant.
A bench warrant gives law enforcement officers the right to arrest you and bring you before a judge. Individuals who are brought in on a warrant may be treated more severely by the court system in California.
Note that a bench warrant does not expire after it is issued. It will remain on your record until you get it cleared. In order to get your warrant cleared, you may want to contact a lawyer. A traffic violation lawyer may be able to get a warrant cleared if you were not charged with a felony.
However, if you were issued a warrant because you did not appear in court, you may have to appear before a judge and jury to resolve the charges you are facing and your warrant.
You May Be Charged with Failure to Appear in California
Legally, you may be required to appear in court if you received a traffic ticket in California. If you do not follow this regulation, you can be charged with a misdemeanor under Vehicle Code 40508a. You should be aware that you can face misdemeanor charges even if your ticket was only for an infraction.
As a misdemeanor, a VC 40508a conviction could have serious impacts for you. If you are found guilty of a VC 40508a violation, you may be:
- Sentenced to spend up to six months in jail
- Ordered to pay a fine of up to $1,000
Sometimes, judges choose to place individuals on probation after a conviction for failure to appear, instead of ordering them to serve time in jail. While you are on probation, you may have to adhere to certain regulations handed down by the court system. If you do not follow these regulations, you could be charged with a probation violation in California.
Build a Defense for Failure to Appear Charges
You may be able to work with a lawyer to handle charges for failing to appear in court in California. A lawyer familiar with traffic law could assess your situation to see if you have a valid reason for failing to appear. This could allow you to get your charges reduced or even dismissed. Depending upon your situation, a lawyer could work to show the following elements.
You Did Not Intentionally Fail to Appear
Generally, you should only be convicted of failure to appear if you “willfully” did not turn up in court. You must purposefully avoid a court date to be convicted of failure to appear. If you missed a court date by accident, you could have your charges reduced.
You Were Prevented From Appearing Due to an Emergency
Emergencies happen. Circumstances beyond your control could prevent you from attending your court date. For example, you could have a serious health event or you could be in a car accident. Both of these situations could excuse your absence in court in California.
You Did Not Sign a Promise to Appear in Court
Technically, you only have to appear in court if you signed an agreement saying you would do so. However, this agreement is generally found on your ticket. Most law enforcement officers will make you sign this agreement before handing over your ticket.
Get Help if You Failed to Appear in Court in California
What happens if you fail to appear in court for a traffic ticket in California? You may be charged with failure to appear, fined, and sent to jail for up to six months. Fortunately, you can get help handling these charges by contacting the Simmrin Law Group. Learn more about your options with a free consultation.
Reach out to a failure to appear lawyer right now. Contact us by calling (310) 997-4688 or completing our online contact form.