Court appearances can be stressful affairs, and it may feel tempting to miss such a date. People sometimes hope that by not appearing, they may be able to avoid further prosecution, or perhaps their case will simply be forgotten by the courts. In other instances, people simply fall victim to sincere disorganization and fail to appear by mistake.
Unfortunately, whether deliberate or accidental, failing to appear in court when required is one of the worst things that a person charged with a crime can do to their case. If you do not make your court date, your failure to appear will act as a strike against you during future deliberations. You could even be issued a bench warrant, which is precisely what it sounds like: a warrant for your arrest, issued by the judge.
If you have already failed to appear at a court hearing or proceeding in New York City, the past cannot be altered. However, an experienced defense attorney may be able to help resolve the matter, defend your rights, and guide you through future court proceedings. To schedule a confidential legal consultation, call Queens bench warrants lawyer Victor Knapp, Esq., right away at (718) 263-9000.
Queens Bench Warrants Attorney: Victor Knapp
Because failure to appear in court doesn’t sound as serious as other criminal charges, such as rape or murder, people often underestimate just how damaging a bench warrant can really be. The reality of the matter is that you become open to numerous, potentially long-lasting penalties, including lengthy prison sentences and the forfeiture of certain legal opportunities. It is critically important that you have the support of an experienced and knowledgeable defense attorney to help you face this matter.
Victor Knapp, Esq., has over 33 years of experience representing thousands of clients facing a wide variety of charges in Queens and throughout the five-borough area. Victor Knapp can offer assistance in matters of:
- Bench Warrant Expungements
- Bail Jumping Charges
- Rendition and Extradition
- Bail Remission Applications
Time is of the essence in handling these cases, so call our firm right away to arrange for a private case evaluation.
What Can Happen if You Miss a Court Hearing?
Failure to appear for a court proceeding can result in the judge issuing a bench warrant for your arrest. Additional negative consequences can include:
- Permanent appearance on your record, which often results in either a denial of bail, or the setting of bail in an amount higher than it would have been otherwise.
- The forfeiture of cash bail or the appearance bond previously posted on behalf of the client, though in some circumstances this forfeiture can be appealed or forgiven.
- Increased likelihood of facing a subsequent charge of bail jumping, which can be classed as a misdemeanor or even felony in addition to the original crime.
- The institution of rendition or extradition proceedings if the client is apprehended or detained in another state.
- The possibility of a negative inference being drawn by a jury at the ultimate trial of the initial criminal case, based upon an argument of consciousness of guilt.
- The automatic establishment of probable cause to stop, arrest, and search the individual with the bench warrant, which can sometimes spill over to his or her companions at the time of the stop.
- Potentially being listed not only in law enforcement databases, but also in publicly circulated magazines, e.g. the Long Island Fugitive Finder. These publications invite the general public to call Crime Stopper telephone numbers to report the location of absconders.
Bail Jumping Charges in New York
A person can be charged with bail jumping in New York if he or she does not appear in court within 30 days of the date of their last required court appearance.
Bail jumping is a criminal offense under Article 215 of the New York Penal Code. Designations and penalties for bail jumping are:
- Third Degree — Class A misdemeanor, up to one year in prison, up to $1,000 in fines.
- Second Degree — Class E felony, up to 4 years in prison.
- First Degree — Class D felony, up to 7 years in prison.
The fact that a person was previously released on their own recognizance without having to post bail is not a defense to a subsequent bail jumping charge.
Furthermore, prosecutors typically welcome the opportunity to charge a defendant with bail jumping, as it gives them extra leverage in prosecuting the pending criminal case. Even if the prosecutor initially had a weak charge to work with, a failure to appear in court can transfer the bargaining power back to the prosecutor, which generally results in a less favorable outcome for the defendant.
For all of these reasons, non-appearance in court is generally a counterproductive strategy which both makes the existing situation worse, and fails to provide any solution or appeal of its own.
Fortunately, you don’t have to meet this challenge alone. Victor Knapp, Esq., has decades of practical experience to bring to your case. It is best to address these matters as soon as possible, so call Victor Knapp right away at (718) 263-9000 to set up your private consultation. You can also contact us online.