Missing a Court Date in Indiana
What happens if I miss my court appearance? There are several consequences that can be extremely serious. If you miss your court date, you may be charged with a “failure to appear” misdemeanor. Your notice will be mailed to the address on your court records, it is your responsibility to ensure this is accurate.
Court Appearances are Required
When you are facing criminal charges or receive a traffic ticket, you will be ordered to appear in court before a judge and possibly a jury. While traffic tickets usually only require a single appearance, certain criminal charges will likely require several appearances, all of which will also be required.
Failure to Appear
If you miss a court date, you could be charged with a crime known as “failure to appear,” which is normally considered a misdemeanor. However, if the crime you were scheduled to face at your appearance is a felony, failure to appear increases to a Class D felony charge, which carries even heavier additional penalties.
What usually happens when you fail to appear is your judge issue a warrant for your arrest, which means that law enforcement can arrest you on sight and take you into custody. This is most likely done if you are pulled over for a routine traffic stop, but law enforcement could take things into their own hands and go to your home or place of employment to execute the warrant.
Penalties for failure to appear can include:
- Class A Misdemeanor: Up to one year in prison and/or a fine of up to $5,000
- Class D Felony: Between six months and three years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000
What if I Get Sick?
This is a perfectly valid question, as nobody can really control when they fall ill. If you fail to appear as a result of an illness (and you can prove said illness prevented you from showing up), then the failure to appear is said to be willful, which means that your charges will likely be dismissed. The same rules can apply for something like a natural disaster or serious accident. Sometimes life happens, and the court understands that, but only in instances where you truly were rendered unable to appear for circumstances beyond your control.
What If I Was Never Notified?
When protocol dictates that you are to be notified of your requirement to appear by mail (such as with a traffic ticket), your notice will be mailed to the address that is on file with the court records. It is your duty to ensure that this address is current. If you fail to do so and you are served notice to appear but never receive the notice due to an incorrect address, the court does not consider your failure willful.
If you have been charged with failure to appear, you should contact a Noblesville criminal defense attorney immediately. At Baldwin, Kyle & Kamish, P.C., we are uniquely qualified to handle your charges, including failure to appear charges. Attorneys Andrew Baldwin and Mark Kamish are the only two attorneys in the entire state of Indiana who hold the title of Board Certified Criminal Law Specialists from the National Board of Trial Advocacy. We have more than 100 years of criminal defense experience, and can develop a hard-hitting criminal defense to help you put the law on your side and work to clear your name.