California Penal Code 1214.1
Are you facing charges for Failure to Appear in Court? Violation of Penal Code 1214.1 is usually dealt with in a fine, in addition to any outstanding penalties you had prior to this fine. Depending upon your circumstances, you may have been charged with additional criminal offenses for which consulting with an attorney is in your best interest. Regardless of your circumstance, call our criminal defense law firm and you will receive a free case evaluation and consultation with a skilled Orange County criminal defense attorney.
What is Penal Code 1214.1?
According to California Penal Code 1214.1, anyone who willfully fails to show up in court will be fined a sum of $300.
In order to fine an individual for failure to show up in court, the state has the burden to prove that:
- A notice was sent informing the individual of a court appearance
- The individual ignored this notice without good cause
The following could be considered an example of a PC 1214.1 violation:
Henry was pulled over one night while driving 90 mph on the freeway. The officer pulled Henry over and issued him a citation for speeding. The citation clearly stated that Henry was required to be present at a court date about one month from the day of his citation. When the date comes, Henry decides he doesn’t want to go. He doesn’t have the money to pay, and he is afraid of what will happen if he shows up. The courts mark his absence and issue a failure to appear under 1214.1(a) pc.
The defendant is usually given a grace period of 10 days in which the court will send an additional notice informing the individual of their failure to appear in court. If the individual responds by providing a valid reason for not appearing in court at the time they were due to appear, and withing this grace period, this assessment fee is usually revoked.
Common Defenses for Failing to Appear
One of the biggest mistakes that a defendant can make is failing to appear in court. The consequences have many significant ramifications. A criminal defense lawyer can use many common defenses for failing to appear (FTA) but you should understand what happens when you fail to show up in court and the consequences also.
When you do not show up in court a good criminal defense lawyer will request time from the court. This allows your lawyer a chance to get a hold of you to find out why you weren’t in court. A judge will usually hold a warrant under advisement for a period of 12 to 48 hours. If the judge and the prosecutors determine that you willfully or negligently disregarded your notice to appear a warrant will be issued for your arrest.
The police may not be able to execute the warrant right away but your driver license will be flagged and eventually they will bring you in. Bond is usually assessed at the time the warrant is issued or if it is deemed that you will not appear in subsequent hearings a judge may issue a no bond hold; meaning you will be held in custody until your hearing.
If the warrant is executed you may spend a period of time in jail or you may also be required to pay heavy fines for FTA. If there is a diversion with the prosecution they will be withdrawn or you may be denied when asked to negotiate one if one does not exist.
Under California Penal Code 1214.1 the prosecution has to prove that a notice was sent and that you ignored the notice without having a good reason to. If it is determined that you willfully did not appear you will pay a fine of $300.
However, if your lawyer is able to get a hold of you within the set period before the judge issues a warrant he can help you prepare a defense with the goal to show that you did not willfully miss your court date.
One excuse that is typically used is that the notice was mailed to the wrong address. You are required to make sure that the court has a proper address for you. Unless there is an extenuating circumstance at the address the court has on file the court will determine that you had the opportunity to take possession of the notice.
If there are circumstances that are beyond your control such as a natural disaster, hospitalization, debilitating illness or other circumstance the judge can be sympathetic and not charge you with FTA.
The best option is to contact your lawyer right away if you are not going to be able to attend court, your lawyer may be able to reset your court date if there is enough time. If your court date has come and gone contact a lawyer right away so that he can help you avoid being picked up for a warrant.