When a person is arrested and released by police, they are usually given a court date and told they must attend on that date. The Police usually make the person sign a Promise to Appear, which is a legal document officially notifying them of their court date and obligation to attend.
When a person does not show up at their first court date, the court has four options.
The first is to adjourn the matter to another date to see if the person will appear. This option is not used that often by court because the accused person won’t be aware of the new court date, so again won’t likely appear.
The second option is to note the accused person’s non-appearance and adjourn the matter to a new date. The notation will be read by the court at the future date, and further action will be taken if the accused person fails to appear in court again.
The third option is for the court to issue a warrant for the person’s arrest, but not release it to the police until the person has had a chance to appear in court to get the warrant cancelled. This gives the person one chance to show up to court at the specified time to avoid being arrested and charged with Failing to Attend Court (FTA).
The final option is for the court to issue a warrant for the person’s arrest, and charge them with FTA. The warrant goes out to the police who start the process of locating the person to arrest them, and execute the warrant.
Convictions for FTA have a significant impact on people involved in the Justice System. Courts look at FTA convictions when deciding whether to grant accused people’s bail into the community. Sometimes, a court will require a cash deposit or a surety before releasing a person who has previous convictions for FTA.
Courts also sentence people to jail sentences for missing court. I recently watched a judge sentence a woman to 1 day of custody for a theft under $5000 conviction, and 14 days for Failing to Appear in Court.
If you’ve been charged with an offence and have appearances in court, be sure to be very careful never to miss your court date. Sometimes new charges like Failing to Appear can interfere with the resolution of the original charge(s) or cause a person to have to fight their charges from inside a jail rather than in the community.
You could be charged with Failing to Appear if you miss court once, so it’s very important that you keep track of your court dates. A criminal lawyer can sometimes appear in court for you so that you do not have to attend until something significant or important is happening. Your criminal lawyer can also help you keep track of your court dates to help remind you to attend when necessary.
If you have been arrested or charged and have a court date in the future, be sure not to miss it. Being charged with Failing to Appear in Court can only make your situation worse.
*note: the information on this page is not legal advice