What to Do When You Fail to Appear in Court in California
Is a Failure to Appear a Separate Crime?Yes it is. Once you have missed a mandatory court date you are facing the original charge and proceedings that are similar to contempt of court: two separate and distinct offenses.
What Happens When a Warrant Issues for a FTA?When you FTA a judge will issue a bench warrant which is then entered into the telecommunications system. If you are stopped for any reason a cop can see you have an outstanding warrant. You will be arrested on the spot.
What Are the Consequences of an FTA Warrant Arrest?You will be placed in jail until the judge is satisfied you will honor your legal obligations. Usually a warrant comes with bail so you can bail out but why waste your money? It's easier to show up in court when you have to.
Other consequences include a record which shows you don't respect court orders. If you are ever arrested on another charge and try to get OR'd it'll be denied. Having a warrant history is not a good thing.
So What Should I Do?You should go to the clerk of the court and ask that your matter be added on to the soonest possible calendar in the appropriate department. Quick action is necessary to avoid an arrest. If you are confused about how to do this have a lawyer do it for you.
When you do appear you request to have the warrant recalled which means presenting your excuses. Since you are now in Court and that was the purpose of the warrant most judges will recall it and let you go home without posting bail unless you have a history of warrants. In that latter case you could be remanded.