FTA While on Bail for Felony Crime: Consequences and Options

fta on felony charge

Let’s have an honest chat about what happens when someone out on bail for a felony crime fails to appear in court. I know many folks feel anxious or confused about the whole situation, and some will even avoid court intentionally out of fear. But it’s crucial to understand that skipping court when you’re out on felony bail has severe consequences.

At our firm, we’ve represented many clients dealing with an FTA, so we want to walk through exactly what happens, why it happens, and most importantly, the options you have if you miss a court date after being released on bail for a felony charge. With some quick action and experienced legal guidance, you can mitigate the damage and get back on track.

Immediate Consequences of FTA on Felony Bail

The moment you fail to appear at your assigned court date, there will be a bench warrant issued for your arrest. Police can and will detain you as soon as they become aware of this warrant in order to bring you back in front of a judge.

What’s worse is that you may potentially be held without bail this time around. The judge sees the FTA as violating the good faith chance you were given by being granted bail in the first place. So don’t expect to simply get booked and released like your initial arrest. You could very well be sitting in jail for weeks or longer before seeing the inside of a courtroom again.

Additionally, failing to appear when out on bail for another felony charge is itself a brand new felony charge. This charge is called “bail jumping”, and it can mean substantial prison time gets added to your potential sentence. We’ve seen clients charged with bail jumping face as much as 3 extra years if convicted.

The bail bond amount you posted will also be completely forfeited when you miss court. So that’s thousands of dollars gone, as well as any collateral you put up as surety for the bond. Real estate, cars, jewelry…whatever you leveraged will now belong to the bondsman.

Finally, don’t expect to get bail again, or if you do, expect it to be extremely high. Judges don’t look kindly on people who’ve already violated the trust placed in them by skipping court dates. Any new bail will likely have very strict surety requirements as well, beyond just a 10% cash payment.

Why Defendants Fail to Appear in Court

Now, you may be thinking, who on earth would risk all that and just not show up to court while fighting a felony? Surprisingly, it happens more often than you’d think. Let’s explore some common reasons:

  • Fear and anxiety play a big role. Some defendants are so afraid of potential consequences that they would rather avoid their day in court altogether. The anxiety overwhelms their judgment and leads to missed appearances.
  • Lack of understanding is another cause. Despite being informed, some defendants simply do not fully grasp the gravity and seriousness of skipping court when out on bail. There is also often confusion around exact court dates, times, and locations. Simple forgetfulness also contributes to many FTAs.
  • Personal issues can also interfere with getting to court. Things like drug addiction relapses, family emergencies, health problems or transportation breakdowns. The pressures of real life disrupt even the best intentions to appear.
  • Willful evasion does happen as well. A small segment of defendants intentionally absconds, often leaving the area entirely.

But after representing countless clients in this position over the years, we’ve found the majority of failures to appear are not intentional. They stem from fear, misunderstanding, or life circumstances rather than a willful choice to dodge justice.

What To Do If You Miss Your Court Date

So you’ve missed your court date and just discovered there is a warrant out for your arrest. It’s an awful feeling, we know. But staying in hiding will only make it worse in the long run. Here are some steps to take immediately:

  1. Contact your attorney if you have one. Let them know about the FTA warrant right away. A seasoned criminal defense lawyer can strategize with you on the next moves and may be able to get a new date scheduled swiftly.
  2. Request a new date through the court. You can petition directly for a fresh court date, though it’s always best to have a lawyer do this on your behalf via an official motion.
  3. Turn yourself in. Once the FTA warrant is issued, turning yourself into the court is really the only surefire way to get back on the docket fastest. Waiting to get caught by police could mean weeks or months in jail before your case moves forward again.
  4. Talk to your bail bonds company. If you used a bondsman to post bail, they have a vested interest in getting you back to court and may advise you on the best way to handle the warrant. In some cases, they can even help facilitate a voluntary surrender.

The overarching theme is: take action ASAP. With an experienced criminal defense lawyer guiding you, it’s very possible to get back in front of a judge in short order to address the warrant and underlying case.

How to Get an FTA Warrant Cleared or Resolved

Once you’re back in custody after the warrant, there are a few avenues to get the warrant cleared up and get back out on bail:

Negotiate your surrender.

In many cases, your attorney can work with the courts to negotiate terms of surrender that let you resume your case without outrageous bail requirements. Sometimes, you can get the warrant recalled and no new bail imposed. Other times, a reasonable new bail can be arranged.

Post a new bail.

If you’re able to post a fresh bail bond, you may be released fairly quickly. But the bail amount is usually much higher than the original, and you will need strong collateral assets to leverage this time around. Not an easy path, but a viable one.

Plead to reduce charges.

Now may be the time to negotiate a plea deal if the offer is reasonable. Resolving the case through a plea to reduced charges could circumvent the messy FTA situation. The DA may be willing to deal to avoid the time and expense of a trial.

Request a bench warrant hearing.

This is a hearing scheduled specifically to explain the circumstances around your failure to appear. If you have a compelling reason for missing court, the judge has the discretion to withdraw the warrant and reinstate your bail. But you’ll need an experienced lawyer to make that convincing argument on your behalf.

The takeaway here is: don’t sit in jail for weeks awaiting your next court date. Take action quickly, with experienced legal counsel advising you so you can get back in front of a judge ASAP. The faster you move to rectify the FTA, the better your options will be.

Additional Consequences Beyond the Legal Realm

Now we’ve covered the critical legal implications of an FTA, but it’s important to note it can create issues in other areas of your life as well:

  • Employment: Many employers will terminate workers with pending felony cases and outstanding warrants. Even if you avoid jail time, the FTA could still cost you your job.
  • Housing: Landlords often evict tenants facing criminal charges and warrants. The FTA makes you vulnerable to losing your apartment or home.
  • Family: The damage to relationships and the stress on loved ones facing your legal situation can be devastating. Don’t underestimate the emotional toll.
  • Finances: Beyond the forfeited bond money, you’ll have steep legal fees, lost income from jail time, or losing your job. The monetary impact is massive.
  • Reputation: Word spreads quickly about criminal charges, and failure to appear makes you look guilty regardless of the truth. Redeeming your good name will be an uphill battle.

The FTA warrant is clearly about much more than just legal consequences. It puts your entire livelihood and future at risk on many fronts. So it’s critical to act quickly if you’ve missed court.

Don’t Let an FTA Warrant Derail Your Future

The warrant feels overwhelming. The uncertainty is paralyzing. You feel powerless and without options.

But please know – you are not alone in this fight.

At Kolacia Law, we have successfully guided countless clients through resolving FTA warrants and moving their cases forward. Our expertise in California criminal law and compassion for our clients sets us apart.

We know your freedom, family, career, and life hang in the balance. We will leverage every resource and forge every pathway to protect your future. But time is of the essence.

You have the power to take control of this situation. Our skilled legal team will empower you to make the smartest moves. Have hope – your options are greater than you know.

Don’t wait another minute. Reach out now for a free case review. Together, we will clear this warrant and craft a bulletproof defense strategy. With Kolacia Law on your side, you can emerge from this stronger than ever. We’re ready when you are.

Author Bio

Daniel Kolacia is the CEO and Managing Partner of Kolacia Law Firm, a Rancho Cucamonga, CA, criminal defense law firm. As a former prosecutor with more than 15 years of experience in criminal defense, he is knowledgeable about both sides of the courtroom, an advantage he uses to help defend his clients. He has zealously represented clients in various legal matters, including white-collar crimes, misdemeanors, felonies, traffic cases, and other criminal charges.

Daniel received his Juris Doctor from the Southwestern University School of Law and is a member of the California Bar Association. He has received numerous accolades for his work and has worked on several high-profile cases featured on Dateline, CNBC, Los Angeles Times, and various local publications.

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