The court has the power to compel people to show up for various court proceedings, ranging from hearings to trials. When the court orders you to go to a court hearing, you do not have a choice in the matter. However, life is not always smooth, and events may occur that prevent you from following the court rules.
If the government has accused you of failing to appear, you may face the risk of a judge holding you in contempt of court and issuing a bench warrant for your arrest.
A seasoned criminal defense attorney may be invaluable as you prepare to defend yourself. There are many arguments you could submit to the court which explain why you were not in court. Speak with a Montgomery County failure to appear lawyer to discuss your options and the best ways to protect you and keep you out of jail.
There are different types of hearing held in which a court may require the defendant to show up. These include summary cases, preliminary hearing, and trials.
When the government accuses a person of a minor criminal offense, such as public drunkenness or loitering, usually the court will allow that person to be free until the date of the trial. If the defendant does not appear in court, the judge will either go forward in that person’s absence or issue a bench warrant if the defendant had received notice of the risk of failing to appear. A judge may issue a bench warrant may according to Pennsylvania Rules of Criminal Procedure 430(B).
If the court finds the person guilty, the court may also issue a bench warrant along with the conviction.
If the government charges a person with a misdemeanor or felony, the court will hold a preliminary hearing to determine if there is enough evidence to give rise to probable cause that the defendant did the crime. If the person does not appear for that hearing, the court can issue a bench warrant.
The judge may not issue a bench warrant defendant had good cause for failing to appear. If the defendant had no notice of the hearing, the judge might issue a bench warrant to locate the defendant. If the government sent notice and the defendant had no good cause for missing the hearing, the judge may hold the hearing without the defendant and issue a bench warrant.
If the government released a person before their trial, either on their own recognizance or by paying bail, that person is expected to appear for trial. If not, the court may charge that person with a second-degree misdemeanor, as detailed in Title 18 of the Pennsylvania Code of Law §5124. The punishment may include up to two years in jail and a fine of up to $5000.
It is a third-degree felony if a person hid or tried to escape the court’s jurisdiction for a felony trial. The punishment may be up to seven years in prison and up to $15,000 in fines. An experienced attorney could help individuals mitigate or avoid the consequences of failing to appear in court.
If a judge issued a bench warrant against you, the police will arrest you if they find you. You may want to get help to contact the court ahead of that occurring. If you miss a hearing date or know that you may miss one, an attorney may be able to help you avoid a bench warrant.
Schedule a time to meet with a Montgomery County failure to appear lawyer to protect your liberty and set your mind at ease. It can be nerve-wracking to fear an arrest without notice. Get help today.