Failure to Appear
Failing to appear in court on a predetermined date is a dangerous choice the current case against you. In most circumstances, you have a warrant out for your arrest right now, and are subject to arrest at any time.Criminal Charge in Massachusetts? Call Attorney Russell Matson at (781) 817-6332.
Whether you were released on your own recognizance, with the promise to appear for future court dates or if you posted bail to get out, you must return when the court instructs you to do so. Failure to return can result in charges of criminal contempt.
You may have missed your court date due to an unavoidable event. Maybe you had no way to get there. Regardless of the reason, you now have to be accountable for the repercussions.
When you fail to appear a warrant will be issued for your arrest in most criminal cases. This can be frightening, particularly if you weren’t intentionally trying to avoid the court date.
Some people are tempted to just ignore the warrant—mistakenly believing the problem will somehow go away or be forgotten about. Trust me when I say, criminal charges are never forgotten in the Massachusetts court system.
Because law enforcement will eventually find you if you don’t turn yourself in, it is critical to speak with an attorney as soon as possible about the best way to handle your situation, and plan to turn yourself in to the court.
The type of warrant issued for failure to appear in court on a criminal charge is a default warrant. You have defaulted on your conditional release after being charged with a crime and are considered a fugitive from justice. That doesn’t mean that teams of police officers in riot gear are breaking in doors all over town looking for you. But it does mean that just taking your car for a drive could very easily result in you being arrested, handcuffed, and jailed.
If there is an outstanding warrant for your arrest, your name is in a database, and if a police cruiser with a license plate scanner picks you up and tags you, you’ll be pulled over and taken into custody. (your driver’s license may also be suspended due to the warrant. )
Other types of warrants include probation surrender warrants. If you are on probation, and your probation officer believes you may have violated the terms of your probation, you can also be arrested at any time. A probation surrender warrant could be issued for failing to meet with your probation officer, failing a mandatory drug test, missing required classes for drug or alcohol treatment programs, or anger management, or any other reason your probation officer may deem a violation. (I can also defend clients at probation surrender hearings, if this warrant was issued unjustly.)
There could also be a straight warrant for your arrest, if you haven’t been to court or charged with a crime, but you are a suspect, and a judge ordered the police to pick you up and arrest you after a criminal complaint or indictment has been issued.
Contempt of Court in Massachusetts
Being charged with contempt may not seem like a major issue. It only results in a small fine. However, if you were out on bail, there’s a good chance the judge won’t give you that benefit again. If the court doesn’t feel like it can trust you to return, you may spend some time in jail awaiting your next court date.
Ref: MGL §276.26
Contact me today to discuss the best way of handling any of these situations where you have some difficulties or misunderstanding with the Massachusetts criminal court systems. We can talk about how to go about turning yourself in and what the contempt charge could mean to future court appearances.
These issues are complicated, and you can’t be expected to figure out and handle all of this on your own. Put your faith in an experienced Massachusetts defense attorney like myself to help fix this issue. I know what it will take to get you free of this mess.
As your attorney, it’s my job to inform you of your options and explain the laws to you. However, you make the ultimate decisions in your case. Call me as soon as possible for a free consultation and some additional details in regards to your failure to appear/outstanding warrant.
You have no time to waste. This problem will not go away, and will catch up with you. Call me today.
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