In Texas, the laws allow an accused to get out of jail on bail until their trial is concluded in most cases. But they get this freedom only after promising the court that they will appear for all the future hearings without fail. If they fail to keep this promise, they face additional charges of failure to appear, which can lead to the issuance of a bench warrant and a hefty fine.
If you or your loved one has failed to appear in court in Texas, you must reach out to an Austin Criminal lawyer immediately to build a proper defense for your case. This is considered a very serious offense and you might find yourself in jail and paying a huge fine even for minor Misdemeanors like a traffic ticket. The court will also report your failure to appear to the Texas Department of Public Safety, and order your driver’s license suspension.
You can check the status of your outstanding tickets in Texas and failure to appear charges on www.texasfailuretoappear.com. You can check the status of your Texas driver’s license here.
Texas Failure to Appear Violations
If you receive a traffic ticket, you will notice a court date mentioned in the citation. You are expected to appear in the concerned court on this date. In case you fail to do so, a failure to appear charge can be issued against you. You may also be charged with Texas failure to appear if you attend the court hearing but do not fulfill the requirements set up by the court.
A failure to appear in Texas generally leads to two penalties – a bench warrant and a heavy fine of up to $500 for a Class C Misdemeanor, or $10,000 for a third-degree felony like DWI. Once the Texas failure to appear warrant is issued, you can be brought into custody by any law enforcement officer, a bounty hunter, or your bail bondsman. This is done to ensure you do not miss out on any future court dates.
Frequently Asked Questions About Failure to Appear in Texas
Do Traffic Tickets Warrants Expire in Texas?
No, Traffic warrants in Texas do not expire. You have to either pay the requisite fine, do the advised community service, or spend the required time in jail. In fact, you can be arrested for Texas failure to appear in court even after the statute of limitation has passed on your original offense. The best way to deal with the situation is to consult a defense lawyer and get a reduced sentence or fine, or try and get them waived altogether. A lawyer can reach out to the court on your behalf and request a date for a hearing instead of an arrest.
What is the Penalty for Failure to Appear in Court in Texas?
Failure to appear in court in Texas can lead to the issuance of a warrant against you along with a hefty fine. The fine value will depend on the underlying charges. For minor traffic offenses categorized as Class C Misdemeanor, the fine can be up to $500. For Class A Misdemeanors like possession of Marijuana, the fine can go up to $4,000 and/or as much as 1 year in jail. For third-degree felonies like DWI, it can be up to $10,000 and/or up to 10 years in prison.
Is Failure to Appear a Misdemeanor?
Failure to appear can be considered a Misdemeanor or a Felony in Texas depending on the underlying crime that led to the court date in the first place. Failure to appear in court for a minor traffic ticket is a Class C Misdemeanor. However, for offenses of a higher degree, it can be categorized as a Class A Misdemeanor or even a third-degree felony. Eg. if you failed to appear in a Felony DWI hearing, the Texas failure to appear charge against you will be a third-degree felony.
How Long Does a Failure to Appear Stay on Your Record in Texas?
A conviction of failure to appear stays on your permanent criminal record and can have adverse effects on your current and future trials. It can be used against you by the prosecutor in your original trial to claim that you skipped the hearing because you were guilty. It will also appear in all your background checks and can cause trouble in future housing and employment opportunities.
How to Handle a Failure to Appear
When you receive a traffic ticket, it might seem like paying it off is the best way out. But that is not true at all. If you pay the traffic ticket, you lose the right to contest it and enter a guilty plea. This admission of a traffic violation can have long-term repercussions in your life. The violation will stay on your record for at least 3 years and your auto insurance rates may increase significantly. It can also lead to your Texas driver license suspension.
The best way forward is to contact an Austin Criminal Defense Attorney before your court date and let them build a defense for you. They will make sure you come out of this without any dent on your record. If the charges against you are severe, they can help you find the best possible option with minimum damage, monetary or otherwise.
Basically, hiring a lawyer is the cheapest and most effective solution to deal with outstanding tickets in Texas. Even if you have already paid the fine, you can consult an attorney for the best way forward.
If however, you have failed to appear on the court date, it becomes extremely imperative that you immediately get in touch with a lawyer. You can have an active failure to appear warrant against you for your immediate arrest, and you might have to pay a significant fine, both of which can be avoided with the right guidance and support.
Hire the Expert Texas Criminal Defense Attorney
If anyone you know has been charged with failure to appear in court, you can reach out to Austin Criminal Lawyer, James Gill. He has years of experience getting active bench warrants canceled and dealing with the underlying violations. He can also help you by posting bail bonds to get you out of jail and get you started on your defense.
Austin Criminal Defense Attorney, James Gill has countless years of experience defending those facing controlled substance charges and other criminal charges in Texas. So, to get the best legal support in this stressful and confusing time, call James Gill today to schedule a consultation at 512-448-4560. The Law Offices of James Gill, PLLC serves all of Austin, Westlake, Kyle, Buda, San Marcos, and the surrounding TX communities.