Failure To Appear Charge In Okaloosa County or Walton County
Details, Penalties and Defense Strategies
Under Section 843.15 Florida Statutes, a person can be charged with failure to appear, also known as “FTA” if they were not present for a particular court date. If this has happened to you, first of all, do not panic. In many cases, a Failure to Appear can be remedied by an experienced attorney, either to get the charge dismissed if it was wrongfully charged, or to minimize the effect of the FTA, and to work to solidify your bond status. To prove the crime of Failure to Appear, the prosecution has three elements to prove:
- That you were released from custody (under Florida Statues 903) pursuant to posting bail or bond (or if you were given a criminal summons or notice to appear).
- That the release was based on a criminal offense for a felony or misdemeanor or you were otherwise released pending sentencing or case appeal.
- That after your release, you WILLFULLY failed to appear as required for prescribed judicial proceeding.
The term WILLFULLY is important. You may have a defense to the charge if you did not willfully fail to appear because of the following:
- Didn’t know about the court date and were not put on actual notice
- Unintentionally or mistakenly missed the date in good faith
- Had intervening circumstances that interfered so that you physically could not attend (medical, etc.)
- Vehicle or transportation failures beyond your control or foreseeability.
The Penalties for Failure to Appear Vary
The potential penalties are is why it is so very important to have your attorney defend a FTA charge.
If you are presently charged in misdemeanor or county court, then the FTA can be charged as a first degree misdemeanor punishable by up to 1 year in jail and/or probation.
And if you are have pending charges in felony or circuit court, then the FTA can be also charged as a felony of the third degree punishable by up to 5 years in prison and/or probation.
An experienced criminal defense attorney should work to not let the prosecutor try to leverage a FTA charge against your primary offense.
If you or a family member has been arrested for Failure to Appear in Okaloosa County or Walton County, give me a call at (850) 362-6655 for a free evaluation.