Failure to Appear, California PC 853.7

Every state has stiff penalties for failure to appear when the court has required you to do so. The logic behind this is obvious – without stiff penalties, many people would interfere with their cases going forward by failing to appear. This is especially true for persons who are facing severe penalties and who are on trial for significant crimes.

Here’s a brief overview of failure to appear California laws, as they apply today.

Failure to Appear Laws in California  

California Penal Codes 853.7 and 853.8 both cover the failure to appear, by setting the minimum charges. If you fail to appear for a registered court date, you are guilty of a misdemeanor. As your court is already in session and your guilt or innocence is physically apparent to the presiding judge, you will not have a trial to determine your guilt – the judge simply declares you guilty of this crime by virtue of the fact that he does not see you at the scheduled hearing.

The judge will now issue a bench warrant (so-called because it is issued from the bench) for your arrest. This gives the police the right to arrest you if they can find you, and detain you until your next hearing – even if that hearing is weeks or months away. California law 853.7 PC also enables the court to assess a penalty of no less than $15 to cover any expenses and inconvenience you have caused by creating this delay.

Legal Ramifications of Failure to Appear

If you receive a failure to appear without just cause (which was a condition of your bail), then your bail may very well be revoked. This means that the court may opt to keep any money you have posted for bail, in addition to issuing the warrant for your arrest. 

If you have used a bail agency, then they may hire a bounty hunter to have you brought in order to protect their surety bond. If you are allowed back out on bail, the face amount may be increased to encourage your appearance in the future.

Failure to appear is a serious crime in the eye of the courts and so it generally has severe effects in the future. It is a mark on your criminal record, and while it is only a misdemeanor, it usually guarantees a brief jail sentence in the local house of corrections. Going forward, you will have more difficulty getting bail, and the bail amounts will be higher and more difficult to post. You may also have bail denied when it might otherwise have been granted.

It’s Always Better to Show Up

Your best option then is to appear, despite the potential dangers you may face at a hearing or trial. If you do fail to appear, the court is generally only willing to set aside this new charge if you can prove that there was something that was physically keeping you from appearing. In general, the only two excuses that are accepted are that you are imprisoned for another crime or that you are undergoing emergency medical treatment.

Outside of those exceptions, you are expected to file a “continuance,” prior to your time to appear. This is a legal notice to the court stating that you cannot appear, explaining why, and giving them forewarning. If you have a lawyer, contacting him or her at least 24 hours before your court date should be enough for them to file a continuance on your behalf.

Failing to appear in court opens you and your loved ones up to increased legal scrutiny, and can impact your ability to be granted and post bail in the future. If you have more questions about failure to appear in court laws in California, contact Bail Hotline Bail Bonds today.

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Possession of Drug Paraphernalia California | CA HS11364

Almost everyone in California should know that possessing drugs is a serious offense that can result in severe consequences. What many people may not know, however, is that simply possessing the items used in the consumption of certain drugs can be a criminal offense. This crime is known as possession of drug paraphernalia, and if convicted, an individual may end up with a punishment that many view as excessive.

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Evading a Police Officer | California VC 2800.1

Law enforcement reality television shows have some of the highest ratings of all the choices available. Some of the most popular, though, are the shows that portray suspects fleeing in vehicles to elude the police. This may seem like good entertainment, but the ‘reality’ is that these individuals are committing a very serious crime. California has a relatively large problem with people running from the police, so the state treats this crime rather harshly – a good reason to know what the charge really entails and why understanding the bail process can be crucial.

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DUI with BAC Over Legal Limit – CA VC 32152 (B)

It’s unlikely that any adult over the legal drinking age doesn’t know that driving under the influence is both dangerous and illegal, yet there are still around 1.4 million arrests yearly related to the crime. California treats the crime relatively harsh when compared with most other states, and a conviction can actually land a person in jail for years under the worst of circumstances. This is why it’s imperative for anyone charged with DUI in California to understand what they’re up against.

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Driving With a Suspended or Revoked License

Most people don’t look at traffic violations as seriously as they do most other criminal acts. In reality, it’s because traffic violations don’t often involve any illegal act against another person or their property. It is important to note, however, that in California, some violations of the vehicle code can be treated just as seriously as other seemingly more egregious violations. Driving with a suspended or revoked license is definitely fits the bill.

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Driving Under the Influence | VC 23152 (A)

There are certain crimes for which an individual can claim ignorance; a person who buys a stereo that turns out to be stolen, for instance, may have had no intention of committing the crime of receiving stolen property. When it comes to driving under the influence, however, a person would be hard-pressed to convince a jury that they didn’t know what they were doing. Unfortunately for many individuals, it’s not even necessary to fail a breathalyzer to be convicted.

If you’ve recently received a DUI charge in California, it’s important to understand the California Vehicle Code, specifically VC23152(a), and how these charges may affect your ability to post bail.

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Hit and Run | CA VC 20001

Being involved in an auto accident isn’t something that people plan on when they start their day. Unfortunately, since statistics show that the average driver will file an auto accident claim once every 17.9 years, it’s obvious that most of us will be involved in one at some point in our lives. Most accidents don’t often involve serious criminal charges, but in California, if a person decides to flee the scene of an accident, they can face very detrimental consequences.

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Joyriding | California VC 10851

Everyone likely remembers driving around town in their very first car, cruising around, showing it off, and feeling the freedom. Joyriding used to mean just driving to drive, with no destination in mind, windows rolled down, checking out the local girls or guys. When it comes to California law, however, joyriding means something else altogether and it can end with serious criminal charges and penalties.

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What is Bail Forfeiture? | California PC 1305-1308

Getting arrested for just about any crime in California can be detrimental. The bail amounts set for many crimes are so high that most people would be unable to post them on their own. Luckily, there are bail bond agencies that can actually secure an individual’s release, and state law sets a maximum fee of no greater than 10 percent of the face bail amount. 

Unfortunately, some individuals either accidentally – or willfully – miss their mandatory court dates, and this can lead to serious issues for both the suspect and the company which put up the surety bond, such as bail forfeiture. Let’s take a look at what bail forfeiture means, as well as what happens when a bail bond is forfeited.

What is Bail Forfeiture?

Bail bond forfeiture can only occur after an individual has been released from jail on a bond, in order to await their court date. This release is often a privilege, since judges don’t always have to grant bail if they suspect a person poses a flight risk. When an individual doesn’t appear for a pre-scheduled court date, this is when the bail bond forfeiture actually occurs. The court proceeds to forfeit the bail bond and a warrant is placed out for the suspect.

There are a series of complex rules and consequences for all parties involved when a person fails to appear for a scheduled court date. Courts often understand that accidents and mistakes happen, and they won’t always be harsh if an individual has a valid excuse for their absence and notices the court promptly. This doesn’t mean, however, that a person shouldn’t know all of the consequences involved with missing a court date – including the possibility of bail forfeiture and a bounty hunter getting involved at some point.

Consequences for the Bondsman

A bail bond company, unlike an individual who pays their own bail, does not have to provide the full amount of bail upfront. In fact, they usually just sign off on the fact that the suspect will appear for all of their court dates. When the suspect misses even one appearance, however, the court will likely order forfeiture of the bail bond. This basically means that the bondsman will receive a letter demanding full payment of the bail amount.

Bail forfeiture can be a serious loss for a bail bond agency. These companies don’t specialize in paying full bail amounts. They provide a service that basically allows them to levy the courts’ trust in them to secure the release of an alleged offender. In most cases, if the defendant isn’t in police custody or court within 180 days of the mailing of the aforementioned letter, the bail will be forfeited and the bail agency will have to pay the full bail amount to the courts.

Consequences for the Defendant

In addition, a person who fails to show up for their court date may face “failure to appear” charges. This is much like a contempt of court charge, and the person will then have to answer for the consequences of their initial crime plus the failing to appear charge. This often results in more severe penalties and a bail forfeiture, but in addition, the court will be far less likely to grant this person bail in this case or for any in the future. Add this to the constant looking over of one’s shoulder for bounty hunters and detectives, and the seemingly easy act of skipping bail suddenly pales in comparison to the end convictions.

Failing to appear is a serious offense in California, and the simple fact is that it will usually result in more serious charges for an alleged offender than they were initially facing in the first place, in addition to forfeiting any bail that was paid for by the defendant, their family or a friend. Unfortunately, these negative consequences can also financially hurt a bail bond agency. The best thing that anyone out on bail can do is to show up for all of their court cases, and if they have to miss one, getting in touch with their bail bond agent quickly is imperative.

If not, the next few months of a person’s life will likely far surpass any initial consequences, and bail forfeiture will be the least of your concerns. If you are having doubts, make sure to speak to a bail bond agency like us as soon as possible to receive expert advice on legally reducing bond installments through a payment plan.

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As the second-largest bail bonds company in the state of California, Bail Hotline has been helping people get out of jail for more than a decade. When you sign up with us, you can count on professional service delivered by experienced staff. Serving varied locations in the state, we aim to make bail affordable for all.

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