If you missed your court date for a traffic ticket or other criminal offense, what are the consequences? They can be harsher than you might think. Judges in Texas and throughout the country do not take kindly to defendants wasting their time, and as a result, individuals who miss their court dates often find themselves facing serious repercussions.
What are the Consequences of Failing to Appear for Court Date?
While you may have a very good excuse for missing your court date, the judge isn’t going to know this if you just fail to appear without notice. As a result, when you have a failure to appear (FTA), the judge will most likely issue a bench warrant for your arrest or for the suspension of your driver’s license. Initially, this could mean one of two things either:
- You receive a notice in the mail informing you that your driver’s license has been suspended (or will be suspended soon if you don’t take action); or,
- You don’t get the notice, and the next time you get pulled over, you get an additional charge for driving on a suspended license. Worse yet, you could get taken to jail on the bench warrant.
While a license suspension alone can have immediate practical implications perhaps preventing you from getting to school or work the long-term consequences of an FTA can be even more severe. For example, even for a simple traffic violation, an FTA stays on your record. If you drive for work, or if a potential employer conducts a background check and sees that you skipped out on a court date, an FTA could get you fired or keep you from landing a job.
In Texas, the Department of Public Safety (DPS) can also deny the renewal of your driver’s license if you have an outstanding FTA.
What to Do if You Have an FTA
If you missed your court date, you should take action right away. Even if you have not received a notice in the mail, if you have an FTA for a traffic ticket, you can assume that your license is probably going to be suspended. In any scenario, you do not want to have to show up in court facing additional charges after you have previously failed to appear.
If you have an FTA, you may be able to rectify the situation without the help of an attorney; however, hiring a defense lawyer is generally going to be in your best interests. This is because:
- The process for responding to an FTA varies by jurisdiction, and you will want someone with local knowledge and experience on your side.
- Having a lawyer who knows the law and is familiar with the local court system can help ensure that you minimize the consequences of your FTA.
- If you have a lawyer, he or she may be able to address your FTA without you having to go to court.
In addition to the consequences discussed above, you may also be facing a fine, and you will likely have to complete paperwork in order to get your license reinstated. To protect yourself and prevent further damage, speak with a lawyer as soon as possible.
Contact a Dallas, TX FTA Lawyer at The Criminal Defense Firm
If you missed your court date, the defense lawyers at The Criminal Defense Firm can help you protect yourself and enforce your legal rights. To schedule a free consultation about your FTA, contact us online now.
Dr. Nick Oberheiden is a national litigation and trial criminal defense attorney who practices exclusively in the area of federal law.