What happens when you fail to appear in court?

When you are arrested in Jacksonville, you will be brought to first appearance court. In first appearance court (also called J-1), if you have been arrested for a misdemeanor, you may be able to resolve your case that day. (enter a plea of no contest or guilty to the misdemeanor in Jacksonville) If you enter a plea of “not guilty”, you will be given a bond and another court date to report to.

As Jacksonville Criminal Attorneys, there have been times when people call us because they have missed their court date. When you miss a court date in Jacksonville, the judge can issue a capias or summons. A summons is when the judge is telling the court system to send you notice that there is another court date set. This is essentially a second chance to appear.

If you fail to appear, another route the judge can take is to issue a capias. This is a bench warrant. The judge will usually put a bond on the capias. The judge is telling the sheriff’s office to arrest you and when you are brought to jail you can bond out if there is a bond attached to the capias. If there is no bond or if you cannot afford to pay the bond, you will be in jail until you go before the judge.

A rarely used Florida law is referred to as “bond jumping”. This means if you miss court, the state can prosecute you for failing to appear. The prosecutor would have to prove you willfully failed to appear. If you fail to appear for a felony in Jacksonville, bond jumping is a third degree felony punishable by up to 5 years in prison. If you fail to appear for a misdemeanor in Jacksonville, bond jumping is a first degree misdemeanor punishable by up to 1 year in jail.

If you miss a court date in Jacksonville, Clay County, or Nassau County, contact a Failure to Appear Attorney in Jacksonville to discuss possible ways to get yourself on the judge’s calendar without turning yourself in.