What Happens if I Fail to Appear for Court in Massachusetts?

If you are charged with a crime in Massachusetts, there are numerous times throughout the criminal process that you may be ordered to appear before the court, beginning with your arraignment hearing. If you fail to appear for any of your scheduled court dates, you are in violation of the law, and could face separate charges as such. Here’s what you need to know–

Penalties for Failure to Appear in Massachusetts

If you fail to appear in court when you are requested to do so, you could be held in contempt of court (this is true regardless of the type of court proceeding you fail to attend, ranging from criminal court to bankruptcy court). When you fail to appear before a court, one of two things, or both, may happen to you:

  • Your driver’s license will be automatically suspended; or/and
  • A warrant for your arrest may be issued.

If you were ordered to appear for a criminal, not a civil, court proceeding and did not, it is likely that a warrant for your arrest will be issued. A warrant could lead to your arrest at any time, so it is very important that you contact an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately to help you understand your options.

Other Consequences You May Face

In addition to having a warrant issued for your arrest, if other criminal charges are pending against you, you may face other consequences, too. For example, if you are on probation at the time of the failure to appear, the terms of your probation may be changed, or your probation may even be revoked (which means you will serve jail time in place of probation). Further, if you have been released on bail, these bail terms may be forfeited, and you may be incarcerated throughout the course of criminal proceedings. You may also have other criminal charges brought against you, such as criminal contempt of court.

Defending Yourself When Charged with Failure to Appear

If you are facing criminal contempt of court charges or are accused of failing to appear before court and have had a warrant issued for your arrest or your license suspended as such, you have the right to defend yourself against the charges and consequences. Some potential defenses including lack of intent to miss your court proceedings (i.e. you did not have the right date or time recorded), the occurrence of a natural disaster or emergency that prevented you from being able to attend court, suffering a serious illness, or a death in the family. If none of these defenses apply to you, our attorneys can help you to understand what happens next, and how to secure the best outcome for your case.

Contact Our Law Offices Today

At The Law Offices of Paul R. Moraski, our Massachusetts criminal defense attorney cares about you, and has the experience and history of success you’re looking for. To schedule a free consultation with Attorney Paul Moraski today, call (978) 397-0011 today.