However, the idea of stepping foot in a courtroom can be extremely nerve-wracking. Some people get cold feet, while others may attempt to flee the state or country to escape criminal charges.
So what happens if I miss my court date?
Unfortunately, if someone intentionally fails to appear in court then they can be charged with a separate crime known as “failure to appear.” A judge will then issue a bench warrant for your arrest. You will then wait for your next court date behind bars after you have been apprehended by law enforcement.
How can the police find me?
There are various ways that law enforcement can locate you. This can be from being pulled over for a traffic violation or searching for you on social media.
So what are the criminal penalties for failure to appear?
If you had originally been arrested for a misdemeanor offense, then failure-to-appear charge will be a Class A misdemeanor that is punishable by a maximum one-year jail term and a fine no more than $2,000.
However, if you have been originally arrested for a felony offense, then the failure-to-appear charge will be a Class D felony that carries a maximum five-year prison sentence and a fine not exceeding $5,000.
What should I do if I miss a court hearing?
Connecticut doesn’t have any statute of limitations on missed court appearances. Old warrants can still appear on computer searches, so you can’t assume that nothing will happen to you after years or decades pass.
If you leave the state and get arrested in another state, local law enforcement are still able to see your outstanding bench warrant. If you leave the country, then you risk being arrested as soon as you return to the United States.
The first thing to do is hire and/or consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney. Your lawyer may work out the deal with the prosecution to have you voluntarily surrender without being charged with failure to appear, or even avoid being held in police custody before your court appearance.