Since the pandemic began back in March, many traffic court cases have been delayed or postponed. Whether or not your case was moved or postponed can be answered by a traffic attorney.
However, when your traffic court case was not delayed, and you did not pay your fine or otherwise resolve it, you could face a failure to appear charge, which is a misdemeanor crime in CA.
CA Vehicle Code (CVC) 40508 (a), Release Upon Promise to Appear, states, “A person willfully violating his or her written promise to appear or a lawfully granted continuance of his or her promise to appear in court or before a person authorized to receive a deposit of bail is guilty of a misdemeanor…”
Because of the severe nature of an FTA/FTP, you should contact a traffic attorney right away. If your case were called on the date you were scheduled to appear, the judge could have found you guilty in absentia. The judge could also add up to $300 for a civil penalty in accordance with Penal Code 1214, Criminal Procedure, Judgment & Execution. This penalty is in addition to all other fines, penalties, surcharges, and assessments.
One problem that could become apparent is when you arranged with the court to make periodic payments on a fine. When you fail to pay (FTP), you could also fall under CVC 40508 if you did not contact the court but instead just did not pay.
However, before paying a collection agency for either FTA/FTP, consult a traffic lawyer. Any payment you make to a collection agency could make your case more difficult for an attorney to resolve.
What Are the Legitimate Reasons for an FTA?
There are only a few legitimate reasons for an FTA, such as military service, incarceration, deportation, hospitalization, or death. A traffic court judge might accept some other reasons when presented by an attorney. They usually know the correct legal terms the judge expects to hear. Likewise, if there is a danger of deportation, you might not want to risk going to court. Talk to your attorney about that possibility as well.
How to Clear a Bench Warrant for an FTA or FTP
You might find advice online to pay the collection agency or call the court clerk. Calling the court clerk typically only helps if your court date has not occurred. In this case, you can usually get an extension or a new court date. However, paying the collection agency, as stated above, will only complicate your case.
Ask a traffic attorney first. The sooner, the better because if there is a bench warrant and you get stopped by law enforcement before talking with an attorney, they will take you in, you will have to post bail, and it will get more complicated. Likewise, with an FTP, the collection agency could garnish your wages or put a lien on any property you own.
A traffic attorney can usually arrange with the traffic court judge many options you cannot make with the court clerk — particularly when there is a bench warrant. Only a judge can remove the warrant.
Talk to Bigger & Harman, APC, the Bakersfield Traffic Attorneys
When you have missed a traffic court date because of COVID, call Bigger & Harman, (661) 349-9300. Se habla Español (661) 349-9755.
We are traffic attorneys who can resolve your FTA or FTP, and your original traffic ticket.
The 2020 CA Driver Handbook.pdf
CVC 40508 (a), Release Upon Promise to Appear
Penal Code 1214, Criminal Procedure, Judgment & Execution