When a person is given a summons to appear in court in the state of Texas, they are entering into a type of obligation with their county and state. According to this obligation, that person is expected to appear in court at the appointed date and time. They are also expected to appear at court in a certain manner. For example, they are expected to be sober, dressed appropriately and cooperate with the rules of the courtroom.

If you missed your court date for a criminal matter you should consult with an attorney as soon as possible to rectify the situation. The fact that missing court may have a negative effect on the outcome of your case, there may also already be a warrant for your arrest. This could be true even if your appearance was only for a traffic ticket!

If you don’t show up in court, the judge will cite this as a failure to appear (FTA) and might issue what is known as a bench warrant against you. This authorizes law enforcement to locate and arrest you. This can be done at home, at work, or if you’re in college, on your campus. It is therefore vital to act immediately when you realize that you have missed your court date. Not only can you be booked into jail, you may also face additional criminal charges and penalties for your failure to appear.

If you are arrested for an FTA, you will be taken to jail where you will remain until you appear before a judge. If the judge agrees to release you, it can be on your own recognizances or bail may be required. This depends on the severity of the original criminal charge for which you missed court. If bail was posted previously, it may have to be forfeited. In some instances, contempt of court charges may also be brought.

For any misdemeanor or felony cases, a date will be set to hear the FTA charge. This is a serious charge and it is essential to talk to a criminal defense attorney to discuss the consequences and any possible defense you might have.

Legal Defense

According to the Texas Penal Code, you may be excused from penalties for failure to appear if you had a valid reason for the absence. The valid reason may include:

  • You were in the hospital or extremely ill or injured
  • You were incarcerated at the time of the summons
  • You never received notification to appear in court
  • You were summoned for military duty at the time of the court summons

While these defenses may keep you safe from additional charges for failure to appear, it is not always easy to excuse a missed court date. For example, if you claim that you simply couldn’t find a ride to court or you forgot about your appearance, the judge isn’t likely to accept your excuse.

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