Some defense lawyers in Phoenix might suggest that the defense against a failure to appear charge in the state of Arizona are relatively limited due to the fact that in almost all instances, the defendant knowingly missed his or her court date — and proving otherwise can be pretty difficult to do — especially if you don’t have the right defense attorney. With that said, however, there can in some instances absolutely be extenuating circumstances outside of the control of a defendant, such as a car accident, the hospitalization of the defendant or his or her spouse or child, and so on.
But even in instances where the reasons for missing a court date are valid, you will still have to go to court — now, for the original reason you were supposed to appear, as well as to explain to the court why you were absent on the day of your original court date. As long as you received the proper notice of your court date and failed to appear, the judge will want to hear why, and if possible, see proof of the reasons you give to the court for missing your original date.
In instances where a bench warrant was filed due to your missed court date, you and your attorney do have the ability to file a motion to cancel the bench warrant and give your reasons for missing the original date. This process is called “filing a motion to quash a bench warrant for failure to appear,” and as long as the circumstances that made it virtually impossible or totally impossible for you to appear in court, most of the time, the judge will dismiss the charge and cancel the bench warrant, leaving you to only have to deal with the original charge or charges you were facing.
What Kind of Charge is a Failure to Appear in Court in Arizona?
In the state of Arizona, failure to appear in court can be either a felony or a misdemeanor charge depending on the circumstances. In circumstances where the defendant knowingly failed to appear in court when the original charge was a felony, a failure to appear in court will be considered a first degree failure to appear in court and deemed a Class 5 felony in accordance with Arizona Revised Statute (ARS) 13-2507.
- For this charge, you could face up to 1.5 years in jail and up to $150,000 in fines and fees.
In instances when your failure to appear in court was related to a petty offense (something for which there is no possible jail or prison time) or misdemeanor charge rather than a felony, you will be charged with a second degree failure to appear in court in accordance with Arizona Revised Statute 13-3903.
- Second degree failure to appear in court is deemed a Class 2 misdemeanor, for which the maximum sentence is four months in facility that is not a prison along with a fine of no more than $750.