Getting a Failure to Appear Charge Dropped or Dismissed in New York
One of the most insidious ways to end up on the wrong side of the law is to end up with a “failure to appear” charge or a bench warrant. This happens when you were set a court date with a Desk Appearance Ticket (DAT) or even a traffic ticket and for whatever reason you did not make it to your court date.
Failing to appear can escalate a small matter into a very big criminal matter, one that can be life changing. It is a serious charge. In most cases, people don’t fail to appear because they are intentionally avoiding court but because they are facing unavoidable circumstances. Sometimes it happens because a person misses notices, or because they find the court system confusing.
These charges have been criticized as part of the process that criminalizes poverty.
What should you do if you realize there’s a bench warrant for your arrest?
You should visit with a criminal defense attorney quickly. The police can show up to arrest you at any time. They do not have to wait to dig up your warrant during a traffic stop.
If you address the matter quickly and with an attorney’s help you may not have to face charges or deal with any jail time. Sometimes it’s possible to simply reschedule your court date.
Failure to appear is far more serious if you were out on bail. You will be charged with more crimes: the crime of bail jumping. Whether that crime is a felony or a misdemeanor will depend on whether or not the crime you were accused of was a felony or a misdemeanor, but it still could add jail time and fines to your eventual sentence.
Keep in mind that if you have a DAT you were technically “arrested,” and you are essentially “out on bail.”
Are there defenses to a failure to appear charge?
Yes. A good attorney can show that your failure to appear was “unavoidable and due to circumstances beyond your control.” You must also show that your failure to appear would have been unavoidable for thirty days after that, and that you either appeared voluntarily after that thirty days expired, or were unable to appear.
A good example might be that if you were in the hospital and unconscious when your court date arrived. You wouldn’t have had any way to get to a court date under those circumstances.
Get help from a criminal defense attorney today.
If you have an FTA then you need more help than ever. Contact our office to ensure that you get the criminal defense support you need to bring this matter to its best possible conclusion.