When you are on vacation in Southern California or if you are here on business and you are arrested for DUI what happens if you fail to appear for your first court appearance?
In order to be released when you are arrested, you will either post bail or be released on a written promise to appear on a specific date. One of the problems that the person arrested has is that if he is from out of state he or she won’t be in California when the court date comes. When the court date arrives, if the Defendant doesn’t show up, the judge has no choice but to issue a bench warrant for the absent Defendant’s arrest. Any bail that is posted will be forfeited. An additional charge of failing to appear will be added to the Defendant’s charges and pose an additional problem.
Once the warrant is issued for the Defendant’s arrest he or she becomes a fugitive. Several common issues can present itself to people with warrants out for their arrest. For example, if the Defendant goes through an airport, a security check will show the arrest warrant. Once that happens, depending on where it occurs, the Defendant could be arrested right then and there at the airport. At this point the person arrested would have to post bail at an increased amount from the original arrest.
The way to solve this problem is for the person arrested to hire a lawyer to appear at the arraignment on behalf of the Defendant. In California, a lawyer can appear for a person arrested on a misdemeanor without the Defendant actually appearing. Even if a warrant has issued for the Defendant for failing to appear at the arraignment the lawyer can appear, with the court’s permission, and have the warrant withdrawn (recalled) and resolve the case without the Defendant ever personally appearing in court. All paperwork can be handled by the attorney sending it to the Defendant for signature out of state.
What is important is that a Defendant who is out of state, for any reason, hire a lawyer to appear for him or her so that an arrest warrant does not go out, and if it does, to recall it without the Defendant coming back to California. If done right the negative consequences for not being present in court as promised can be minimized by a good criminal defense lawyer.