When a defendant misses a court appearance, the court will issue a bench warrant for the defendant’s arrest. Depending on the gravity of the charges, the bench warrant can range from $5000.00 and up. The district attorney or the city attorney may also charge the defendant with an additional count for failing to appear pursuant to Penal Code 1320 or Penal Code 1320.5. Pursuant to California Penal Code section 1320, it is a misdemeanor or a felony to willfully evade a court appearance. California Penal Code Section 1320.5 also states that any person who is charged with or convicted of a felony, and then is released on own recognizance or posts bail who subsequently willfully evades the court process by failing to appear, is guilty of a felony. California Vehicle Code 40508(a) also provides that if a person willfully violates his or her written promise to appear or a lawfully granted continuance of his or her promise to appear in court is guilty of a misdemeanor regardless of the disposition of the charge upon which he or she was originally arrested.
When a person is charged with a conviction or convicted of a crime and then he or she is released from custody or posts bail or placed on probation, the defendant still must continue to make his or her court appearances. If the defendant is ordered to return to court or provide proof of completion of his or her probationary terms to the clerk’s office and willfully fails to appear, the defendant may be charged with a separate felony or a misdemeanor. There is a presumption in the law that if the defendant who willfully fails to appear within 14 days of the date assigned for his or her court appearance, intended to evade the process of the court. The Khachatourians Law Group has successfully quashed numerous bench warrants and dismissed failure to appear cases. Some possible defense are:
- Defendant did not willfully evade the court appearance;
- Defendant calendared the matter for the wrong date;
- The clerk provided the wrong date and the record reflects non pro tunc;
- The former attorney representing the defendant was going to appear on the misdemeanor case pursuant to Penal Code 977;
- There was a misunderstanding as to the date;
- Mitigating circumstances that shows the defendant did not willfully evade the court appearance.
The Khachatourians Law Group handles bench warrant and failure to appear cases in Inglewood Courthouse, Van Nuys Court, LAX Courthouse, Glendale, Burbank and Pasadena Court as well as throughout the various courthouses in Los Angeles and Orange County. If you have already pled guilty or no contest and have failed to comply with your probationary terms and are afraid of going to court, call attorney Arthur Khachatourians. Attorney Arthur Khachatourians has the experience in successfully addressing the matter with the court regarding defendant’s bench warrant, revocation of bail, and failure to appear. It is never too late to clear your bench warrant and show good conduct and reform to the court to clear your criminal record and expunge your conviction pursuant to Penal Code 1203.4 and 1203.4a. Call attorney Arthur Khachatourians for a defense consultation regarding bench warrants, failure to appear, and expungements.