Virginia Law on Failure to Appear: Va. Code 19.2-128
In Virginia, A failure to appear (“FTA”) is charged when you fail to appear for your court date. If you fail to show up for your court date, a judge can issue a bench warrant for your arrest. Meaning, there will be a warrant out for your arrest until you either self-report or are picked up by police.
It is a separate criminal offense, aside from what you were initially charged with for which you missed the court date. It is prosecuted separately from your underlying criminal charge and even if your criminal charge is dismissed, you can still be charged with the FTA.
If you are unsure about your court date, given the current changes in the court’s calendar because of COVID-19, call our office or check out our court update page here.
What is Failure to Appear?
A. Whoever, having been released pursuant to this chapter or § 19.2-319 or on a summons pursuant to § 19.2-73 or § 19.2-74, willfully fails to appear before any court or judicial officer as required, shall, after notice to all interested parties, incur a forfeiture of any security which may have been given or pledged for his release, unless one of the parties can show good cause for excusing the absence, or unless the court, in its sound discretion, shall determine that neither the interests of justice nor the power of the court to conduct orderly proceedings will be served by such forfeiture.
B. Any person (i) charged with a felony offense or (ii) convicted of a felony offense and execution of sentence is suspended pursuant to § 19.2-319 who willfully fails to appear before any court as required shall be guilty of a Class 6 felony.
C. Any person (i) charged with a misdemeanor offense or (ii) convicted of a misdemeanor offense and execution of sentence is suspended pursuant to § 19.2-319 who willfully fails to appear before any court as required shall be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.
Why am I being charged with a probation violation as well?
If you fail to appear for your court dates, you will forfeit your bond and can be charged with a violation of your probation. As a result of this, you can have your suspended sentence from any prior charges revoked. The judge has the option to also cite you for contempt of court and this carries a fine punishable with up to 10 days in jail.
How is a Failure to Appear punished in Virginia?
If your underlying court date that you missed was for a misdemeanor crime, your failure to appear charge will also be a misdemeanor. A misdemeanor failure to appear is punishable by up to one year in jail and up to $2,500.00 in fines.
Should I get an attorney?
Yes. Whether you accidentally forgot your court date, were confused about changing dates, or had another reason why you weren’t in court, talk to an attorney about your defenses. Failure to appears aren’t just additional criminal charges. They can have lasting consequences such as jail time, revocation of bond, violation of your probation.
If there is a bench warrant out for you, oftentimes you can be picked up after being stopped for a routine traffic stop. It is important that you get in touch with an attorney as soon as you miss your court date so that you can be prepared to handle this in front of a judge.
There are several defenses to a failure to appear charge and a skilled attorney can help you navigate all the potential consequences as well as evaluate your specific situation to come up with defenses.
If you missed your court date because of court date changes due to COVID-19 or were unable to be in court because of it, call our office to talk about your specific case and check out our COVID-19 criminal law update page.
Contact our office today for a free case consultation.
Virginia and D.C. Federal Crimes
Federal Assault Crimes
Assault on Law Enforcement: 18 U.S.C. 111
Simple Assault: 18 U.S.C. 113
Assault with Intent to Commit Murder: 18 U.S.C. 111
Domestic Assault: 18 U.S.C. 117
Maiming: 18 U.S.C. 114
Murder: 18 U.S.C. 1111-1122
Kidnapping: 18 U.S.C. 1201-1204
Domestic Violence and Stalking: 18 USC 2261-2266
Transportation for Illegal Sexual Activity: 18 U.S.C. 2421-2429
Aggravated Sexual Abuse: 18 U.S.C. 2241
Sexual Abuse of a Minor: 18 U.S.C. 2243
Sexual Abuse: 18 U.S.C. 2242
Federal Driving Crimes
Reckless Driving: 32 CFR 263.6
Hit & Run
Federal White Collar Crimes
Embezzlement: 18 U.S.C. 641-670
Blackmail: 18 USC 873
Other Federal Crimes
Terrorism: 18 U.S.C. 2231-2339(d)
Riots: 18 U.S.C. 2101-2102
Federal Drug & Alcohol Crime
Drug Distribution and Trafficking
Marijuana Possession: 18 U.S.C. 844
Federal Weapons Offenses
Felon in Possession of a Firearm: 18 U.S.C. 922(g)
Weapon used in crime of violence of drug trafficking: 18 U.S.C. 924(c)
Sale of Firearms without a License: 18 U.S.C. 922(a)
Sale of Illegal Firearms: 18 U.S.C. 922
Making False Statements when Purchasing Firearm: 18 U.S.C. 922(a)(6)
Illegal Possession of Firearm: 18 U.S.C. 922(o)
Federal Cyber/Computer Crimes
Federal Punishment and Procedure
Failure to Appear: 18 USC 3146