What Constitutes a Failure to Appear (FTA)?
Failure to Appear (FTA) is the legal term for when a defendant does not clear their ticket before or show up for court at his/her scheduled time. The judge will issue a warrant (hence the name, bench warrant because it is issued from the bench) for their arrest, which likely will result in an arrest, fines, and/or jail time. What’s more is that there is no chance for bail until you or your attorney meets with a judge.
If you get a traffic ticket and fail to show up in court on or before your scheduled time, you could be charged with a misdemeanor or felony. The classification of your FTA depends on the classification of the original crime. The prosecutor will ask for a maximum fine and the judge can suspend your license until fines are cleared. In California, the only acceptable excuse for an FTA after you received a traffic ticket are military service where it was impossible to appear, you were in jail, or you were in the hospital. Proper documentation will have to be presented to the judge.
Can You Afford to Double Your Fine?
A typical FTA fine can range from $300 to $600 (plus the fine for the original charge) depending on prior convictions, your original ticket, and reasons for not appearing in court (the judge may consider these but it is their discretion). These fines will never go away. If you try and avoid court-issued fines, they will likely double or triple. Can you afford to pay double your fine? If you cannot afford to pay double your fine, show up at court, plead your case, and ask that your income is considered. The judge can reduce your fine or order the court’s clerk to set up a payment plan.
What is a Bench Warrant in California?
Bench warrants are very common in the state of California. These types of warrants are issued by "the bench," or in other words, the judge. They are usually handed out when a defendant does not show up to his/her scheduled court date. A bench warrant can only be cleared by a judge.
It is very important to understand the consequences of an FTA. When a ticket states that you must appear in court, either you or your attorney must appear and clear the ticket by pleading guilty, not guilty, or no contest; it is not optional. People that think they can just blow off their appointment will be surprised later when they are stopped for another violation and hauled off to jail on the spot.
Contact a Traffic Ticket Defender to Clear Up Your FTA
FTA is a serious offense and you would be well-advised to hire a traffic ticket defender to represent you in court. This charge can lead to jail time and a traffic ticket defender might be able to argue for probation instead, as with a suspended license. Many penalties for traffic tickets leave room for the judge to reduce fines, suspensions, and jail time. However, traffic court is fast-paced and not at all like what you have seen on TV. If you think you can just go to court and present your case to the judge, get off on a technicality and walk, chances are you will not. Even divorce and family lawyers are shocked by the pace of a traffic court hearing and often get lost before having an opportunity to provide their client fair representation.
Call Bigger & Harman to get the counsel of a true traffic ticket defender. You may also send them an email with the particulars of your case and they will respond as soon as possible, email@example.com. Bigger & Harman handle traffic tickets in southern and central CA traffic courts. The counties they serve include Kern, Tulare, LA, Kings, SLO, Mono, Inyo, Riverside, San Bernardino, and others.
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