Failing to Appear in California Court
During a court process, the parties to the case may require witnesses to appear in court, or even before that, the parties themselves must also be in attendance. If you receive a legal mandate to attend and appear in court, you must do so. Intentionally failing to appear in court can result in serious criminal charges and penalties. This article provides a brief overview, but it is recommended to speak with your lawyer and know when to appear for your case.
Establishing Failing to Appear
This charge only applies to individuals who are legally required to be at the courtroom. If the session is open, friends, family, and journalists can appear, but failing to come is not a criminal offense. Only specific situations can require attendance. If a person is subpoenaed or ordered to court, they must appear. Do not ignore a subpoena or a court order. If you are worried or have questions, simply ask an attorney for help. Ignoring a legal mandate will land you in trouble.
To prove “failure to appear” for those facing a criminal charge, the prosecution must show that the defendant had been charged with a crime, released from custody, ordered to court, but then intentionally did not appear when legally required.
Penalties for Failing to Appear in Court
If you were ordered to court for a crime you were charged with and then failed to appear, you can face additional penalties on top of the ones for the original charge. If the original charge was a misdemeanor, then you face a misdemeanor and can have a greater jail sentence. For original felony charges, you face an additional felony and this, too, can result in an increase in the jail or prison sentence.