Failure to Appear
Information from Hensley Law Firm about failure to appear (FTA) in court in North Carolina, including the law, potential consequences, and legal issues.
Appearance in court in North Carolina is mandatory for criminal defendants for nearly all offenses and a defendant who does not appear on his court date or hire an attorney to appear for him will have a Failure to Appear (FTA) issued against him by the judge, and in some situations, an accompanying Order for Arrest (OFA). A forfeiture of any bond paid may also be issued by the judge.
Failing to appear for a court date, regardless of the severity of the charge that was to be heard on the court date, will carry serious consequences. At a minimum, after an FTA is issued by the judge, the DMV will revoke the person's driver's license indefinitely until the FTA is addressed and cleared up. The DMV only sends one notice to the driver, after which the license is revoked. Driving after such a revocation constitutes Driving While License Revoked and carries its own set of consequences.
Even if an FTA is addressed before license revocation, there is currently a $200 FTA fee that must be paid. If the defendant's license is revoked, the $200 fee plus a $100 restoration fee must be paid (after addressing the FTA) before the license will be restored.
For more serious offenses, the judge will also issue an order for the defendant's arrest by any law enforcement officer who comes upon the defendant. A person who fails to appear on his court date for a charge he thought was a simple speeding ticket could end up in jail because he did not show up on his court date and an order for his arrest was issued by the judge. Then, after dealing with posting bond to get out of jail, the defendant will have to deal with the underlying charge and the FTA associated with the charge.
In the most serious of situations, failing to appear on court date can result in new, separate criminal charges.
FTAs can also carry a stigma as judges and magistrates will look to see if a person has previously failed to appear on assigned court dates when deciding bond amounts for new charges or even for appeals of charges or convictions to higher-level courts.
FTAs are usually very straightforward in that either the person was present at his court date, or he wasn't. Although few and far between, occasionally the court system enters information into their systems incorrectly and an FTA is issued for someone who otherwise wouldn't have received an FTA. Sometimes there was a truly compelling reason the person couldn't be in court - and couldn't provide notice to the court of this fact or hire an attorney to appear for him - in which case FTAs may be stricken by the judge. Occasionally, a person is noticed by mail that they must be in court but they never receive the notice for some reason. FTAs do not often have underlying legal problems so much as general problems of whether they should have been issued in the first place.
Why Hire an Attorney?
It is important to have a trained, experienced attorney work with you to resolve your FTA completely and with minimal consequences. A knowledgeable attorney will know not only whether the FTA should have been issued in the first place, but they will be able to work with the court system to clear up the FTA and any associated Orders for Arrest before the defendant is arrested again and must post bond multiple times.
Have questions about FTAs or OFAs? I am always happy to give free consultations and speak with you about your situation to assess your options.
Hensley Law Firm provides criminal defense representation in:
Mars Hill, Marshall, Hot Springs, and surrounding areas (Madison County)
Asheville, Weaverville, Leicester, Black Mountain, Swannanoa, and surrounding areas (Buncombe County)
Burnsville and surrounding areas (Yancey County)