After getting arrested and posting bail, you will be ordered to appear in court for your arraignment, which is the first step of the criminal proceedings in Connecticut. At the arraignment, a judge will read the charges against you, ask how you will plead (e.g. not guilty, guilty, or no contest), and asks if you have a lawyer or need a court-appointed attorney.
However, the idea of stepping foot in a courtroom can be extremely nerve-wracking. Some people get cold feet, while others may attempt to flee the state or country to escape criminal charges.
What happens if I miss my court date?
Unfortunately, those who intentionally fail to appear in court can be charged with a separate crime known simply as “failure to appear.” A judge will issue a bench warrant for your arrest, meaning you must wait for your next court date behind bars after being apprehended by law enforcement.
How can the police find me?
Whether you a pulled over for a traffic violation or searching for you on social media, there are various ways law enforcement can find anyone who has an outstanding criminal warrant for failure to appear.
What are the criminal penalties for failure to appear?
If you have been originally arrested for a misdemeanor offense, the failure-to-appear charge will be a Class A misdemeanor that is punishable by a maximum one-year jail term and a fine no more than $2,000.
On the other hand, if you have been originally arrested for a felony offense, the failure-to-appear charge will be a Class D felony that carries a maximum five-year prison sentence and a fine not exceeding $5,000.
What should I do if I miss a court hearing?
Connecticut doesn’t have any statute of limitations on missed court appearances. Old warrants can still appear on computer searches, so you can’t assume that nothing will happen to you after years or decades pass.
If you leave the state and get arrested in another state, local law enforcement can see your outstanding bench warrant. If you leave the country, you risk being arrested as soon as you return to the United States.
The first thing to do is hire and/or consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney. Your lawyer may work out the deal with the prosecution to have you voluntarily surrender without being charged with failure to appear, or even avoid being held in police custody before your court appearance.
At The Sills Law Firm, we can help you resolve this dilemma and help you obtain the best possible outcome in your criminal case. With nearly seven decades of combined legal experience, our legal team can assess your case, figure out all your legal options, and help you either get your charges reduced or your entire case dismissed.