Unlike many other appointments in our day-to-day lives, court appearances are scheduled based on the court’s schedule, with little regard for a defendant’s personal schedule. Although it can be an inconvenience for those who have work or children, it is of utmost importance to comply with scheduled court appearances.
Failure to appear for a scheduled court appearance can be a criminal offense. If you’re already facing criminal charges, a failure to appear can exacerbate those charges and negatively influence a judge and jury’s opinion of you.
What Is the Failure to Appear Law in Colorado?
In Colorado, failure to appear is covered under Colorado Revised Statutes, Section 16-2-110, which states, “If a person upon whom a summons or summons and complaint has been served pursuant to this part 1 fails to appear in person or by counsel at the place and time specified therein, a bench warrant may issue for his arrest.” This statute allows a judge to apply the most immediate consequence of failure to appear: the issuing of a bench warrant.
Potential Consequences: Bench Warrant
An arrest warrant is a written order signed by a judge on behalf of the state, which authorizes the arrest and detention of a named individual. A bench warrant is a type of arrest warrant, typically issued for failure to appear or failure to pay a fine. It is called a bench warrant because the defendant failed to sit on a “bench” in court before the judge.
If a bench warrant is issued for your arrest, you may be arrested at any time, and law enforcement may seek you out at your home or place of work. Getting arrested via a bench warrant means that you will most likely be incarcerated until your court hearing or until you can post bail, including your fines, court costs, and administrative fees. In some cases, you may be incarcerated without bail.
While a bench warrant may result in an arrest by law enforcement officers, the situation is better handled when the defendant addresses the warrant directly. If you have missed a court hearing in Colorado Springs, take an active approach by inquiring about the warrant and attempting to resolve it with the court. Work with an experienced Colorado Springs criminal defense lawyer to ensure that your rights are protected in the process.
Potential Consequences: Changes in Bail
If you were incarcerated and posted bail after your initial arrest, a failure to appear may result in the forfeiture of your bail. If you secured bail through a bond company or other loan service, they will likely seize your assets, possibly your car or home, in order to get their money back.
If a judge requires bail in any future proceedings, he or she will most likely raise the amount due to your previous failure to appear.
Depending on the original charges and each individual case, other punishments may be levied. For example, if the original offense was a traffic ticket or DUI, your driver’s license may be suspended or revoked by the judge.
Potential Consequences: Probation
If you’re on probation and fail to appear in court or to your probation officer, you may be considered in violation of your probation. A probation violation like this could be punished in various ways:
- Loss of your probation (serve the remaining portion of your sentence in prison)
- Additional fines and fees
- Mandatory community service
- Stricter terms placed on your probation
Additional Criminal Charges
In some states, failure to appear is itself a crime and can be either a misdemeanor or a felony. Fortunately, in Colorado, it is neither. Instead, failure to appear can be considered contempt of court. Punishments for a contempt of court charge include a fine, a prison sentence, or both, in addition to punishments for the original crime.
Overcoming a DUI or other criminal charge is challenging enough on its own. When a failure to appear is added to the mix, it can feel like your legal problems are becoming insurmountable. You can break the cycle, however. A knowledgeable legal team can help manage the consequences of a failure to appear in Colorado and work with you to create a path out of legal turmoil.
If failure to appear has left you with additional charges, The Bussey Law Firm, P.C., can help you work through the charges, put your best foot forward, and achieve the best possible outcome. For a confidential consultation, call our office today at (719) 401-0585.