When you are given a date and time to be in court, there is a reason for it. In Arizona, as in many other states, the courts are so bogged down with cases that postponing even one hearing or trial can have a negative domino effect on others.
In order to encourage defendants to come to their required court appearances, and to sway them from skipping out on them, the state has implemented laws that make it a crime to fail to appear in court. Those who fail to appear when they are supposed to face various penalties, dependant upon the type of court case that you missed.
Types of Failure to Appear in Court
There are three different types of failure to appear in court in Arizona.
1. Failure to Appear for a Felony Proceeding
The most significant charge for failing to appear comes under §13-2507, which makes it a Class 5 felony for anyone who is faced with a felony proceeding and knowingly misses it. For those who are first time offenders, this can result in prison time (between 6 and 30 months).
2. Failure to Appear for a Misdemeanor or Petty Offense Proceeding
Under §13-2506(A)(1), it is a Class 1 misdemeanor for someone to knowingly miss a court appearance that is related to a misdemeanor or a petty offense if they were required to attend under the law. Those convicted of this failure may receive up to 6 months in prison.
3. Failure to Appear After a Written Promise
Finally, under §13-2506(A)(2), it is a Class 2 misdemeanor for someone to fail to appear to a court proceeding if they have given a written promise to do so under A.R.S. §13-3903. This carries a sentence of up to four months in jail.
Individuals who fail to make a required court appearance will have a bench warrant issued for your arrest. Then one you are brought by the police to your scheduled court date it will be much more difficult to make bail, considering that you will have the additional charge for failure to appear.
Defenses to Failure to Appear
If you have been charged with a failure to appear in Arizona, the basis is that you have knowingly done so. This means that if you have been faced with unforeseen circumstances, such as a car accident, you technically were still aware to have knowingly missed your court appearance. However, if you have a good reason, such as a car accident, the judge has the power to invalidate the charges. Should you fail to appear due to an unforeseen circumstance such as a car accident, it is important to contact the court right away to give notice and to file a motion to quash the warrant as soon as you can. You will be less likely charged with an additional crime if you give notice immediately.
Arizona Lawyers Helps Those in Arizona Who Have Been Accused of a Crime
If you or someone you know has been accused of a crime, it should not be taken lightly. Seeking the help of a knowledgeable and experienced criminal defense attorney can be the difference between having your charges dropped or reduced, or receiving a criminal sentence. Either outcome will impact the rest of your life in different ways. At Arizona Lawyers, we give our all to aggressively defend you and your rights. To learn more or to schedule a free consultation, contact us today!