You are guilty of failure to appear when you get charged with a crime and you willfully fail to appear when legally called to court according to the terms of your bond. If you don’t appear in court when you’re supposed to, the court will interfere. They will issue a re-arrest warrant for the your arrest. At this time, you are considered a fugitive. If you hired a bail bondsman, they have the authority to take you into custody if they find you. This is because a failure to appear increases the risk of forfeiting collateral and incurring additional expenses.
The crime of failure to appear in Connecticut can be in either the first or second degree. The degree of the offense depends on the classification of the underlying crime. First degree failure to appear constitutes a felony, meaning it carries more serious consequences than the misdemeanor charge. Second degree failure to agree constitutes a misdemeanor or motor vehicle.
Proving Failure to Appear in Court
The court will determine which degree of failure to appear in court you will receive. In order for you to be found guilty of this charge, the state has to prove the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt:
- You got released upon the condition that you would appear in connection with your criminal proceedings at a later date.
- There is a duty to appear.
- You willfully failed to appear in court as required by law. For the purposes of the statute, an act willfully happens if done knowingly, intentionally, and deliberately. In order to prove this element, the state has to show beyond a reasonable doubt that you received and knowingly, intentionally, and deliberately ignored a notice to appear or that you knowingly, intentionally, and deliberately did something to prevent yourself from receiving notice of a court appearance.
Basically, the state has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt the following:
1) You got released on condition. This condition includes appearing in connection with a pending criminal proceeding at a later date.
2) You were required to appear in court on a specific date, and you willfully failed to appear on that date.
If a jury unanimously finds that the state has proved beyond a reasonable doubt each of the elements of the crime of failure to appear, then they will find you guilty of the crime. On the other hand, if the jury unanimously finds that the state has failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt any of the elements of the crime, the you will not be found not guilty.
Sometimes, in order to pay a bond, a person uses a cosigner. When this happens, the cosigner’s money or property is used as collateral for a defendant to be released on bail. If the defendant does not show up to court, the cosigner is the one who pays. Whatever they used for the bond will be confiscated and will not be returned.
A cosigner is liable for the full amount of the bond plus expenses if a person doesn’t attend their hearing. However, missing court doesn’t necessarily mean you are on the hook for the full amount of the bond. Surety bail agents have the lowest fugitive rate with 3% or less of these defendants becoming fugitives. If a defendant does become a fugitive, bail enforcement agents usually find them and bring them back to justice. Approximately 1% of the fugitives are untraceable. So, for those cases the surety bail bond company usually writes a check for the forfeited bail amount.
Unfortunately for a cosigner, they are liable for the full amount of the bond plus expenses. This is the case if their friend or relative does not go to court. However a failure to appear in court does not necessarily mean you’ll have to pay the full amount of the bond. You should discuss this matter with a lawyer for more information.
If a cosigner notifies the surety bail bondsman of the forfeiture and make arrangements to surrender the defendant to the court, the cosigner may only be liable for the actual expenses the bondsman incurs. While there is no excuse for missing court, we strongly encourage our defendants and cosigners to notify us of any unusual circumstances so that we can advise them as to the best course of action.
Call a Connecticut Lawyer for Missing a Court Date
Whether you are a defendant in a case or a cosigner, you can contact a Connecticut failure to appear lawyer for help.