Failure to Appear for a Maryland Court Hearing
If you are charged with a crime or serious traffic offense in Maryland, it is critical to comply with all of your court dates. Missing a court date only increases your legal troubles and can worsen the criminal penalties. If you have missed a court date and are concerned you may have an outstanding bench warrant for your arrest, contact a Maryland criminal defense attorney to guide you through the complexities of the legal system.
A criminal defense attorney can help you take a proactive approach to solving your problem.
If you have been charged with a criminal offense in Maryland and you have been released on bail, your failure to appear before the court could result in the forfeiture of your bond and additional criminal charges. If you do not work to resolve your failure to appear status, it is possible you will remain in police custody through the resolution of your case.
If you fail to pay a traffic fine or appear before the court on a traffic violation, you may be charged with failure to appear in Maryland, which can result in a suspended driver’s license. If you are pulled over for a minor traffic offense and you have an outstanding warrant for failure to appear, you can be immediately arrested and held in custody.
Common Situations Where Failure to Appear Occurs
Failing to appear in a Maryland court can result in a warrant being issued for your arrest, and is an additional charge of its own. Here are the most common instances where failure to appear occurs:
- Failure to appear for a citation: In the state of Maryland, it is illegal to fail to appear in court in response to a citation from a law enforcement officer.Title 5, Subtitle 2 of the Maryland Criminal Procedure Code states that a bench warrant will be issued for the arrest of any individual who fails to adhere to this statute. This does not include citations for parking regulations (Title 26, Subtitle 3 of the Maryland Transportation Code), traffic violation (Section 1-605(d) of the Maryland Courts Article), or from the Maryland Natural Resources Department (Section 1-205 of the Maryland Natural Resources Article). Failure to adhere to this law can result in up to 90 days in jail and a fine not to exceed $500.
- Failure to appear for jury duty: Title 8, Subtitle 5 of the Maryland courts and judicial proceedings code states that it is illegal for an individual to fail to appear for jury service after being summoned. This code also states that a judge may order the individual who failed to appear back to court on a separate date, to demonstrate their reason for failing to appear for jury duty. If found guilty, the defendant can receive jail time of up to 60 days and a fine of up to $1,000.
Defense for failure to appear
If a bench warrant has been issued for your arrest for failing to appear in a Maryland court, contact a criminal defense attorney immediately. There are many reasons why you may have missed your court date, and you will have your chance to demonstrate this reason to the judge. It is extremely important to provide whatever documentation you can to support your claim. Here are the most common reasons why an individual may fail to appear in court:
- You had a serious illness or injury
- An immediate family member (spouse, child or parent) has a serious illness or injury
- The failure to receive a notice to appear was the court’s fault
- Automotive accident/breakdown, or other unforeseen circumstance
- Military service
- You were incarcerated at the time you were supposed to appear
When a judge decides whether or not to “quash” a bench warrant, the judge will consider the nature of your charges, your reasoning for not appearing in court, if you have a history of not appearing, and many other factors. Hiring a criminal defense lawyer can significantly help your chances of your bench warrant being quashed.
If you face one or more of these charges it is crucial that you contact a criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible in order to protect your rights.
For additional info about these laws you can read the Maryland Official Code.