The criminal courts in Columbia have broad powers to compel people to appear for their scheduled court dates. These include people facing criminal charges, those who are witnesses to an alleged crime, or even individuals seeking to create or dispute a protective order.
If a person does not appear at a sanctioned court hearing, they are in violation of the law. This is a separate criminal offense that can result in significant jail time. If you are facing accusations of avoiding a court appearance, reach out to a Columbia failure to appear lawyer for assistance. A trustworthy criminal attorney could represent your interests before the court.
Criminal courts have the power to require people to appear on a specific date and time, and a willful failure to do so could come with harsh consequences. If the person who allegedly failed to appear is a defendant in an established criminal case, South Carolina Code § 17-15-90 says that failing to appear is treated as a new and separate criminal offense. If the underlying case is a misdemeanor, the new charge is also a misdemeanor. When the underlying case is a felony, the new accusation is also a felony.
Failing to appear can also affect people who are not currently facing other criminal charges. These can include people who receive subpoenas to appear as witnesses. Not appearing at a scheduled time can constitute criminal contempt of court. In short, this means that person is frustrating the purpose of the court. Under SC Code § 22-3-550, judges have the power to order a party to pay a fine of up to $500 or impose a jail sentence of up to 30 days for failing to appear. A Columbia failure to appear attorney could help any person facing an allegation related to a nonappearance at a criminal court session.
The consequences of failing to appear at a court date can take on many forms. These are separate criminal charges where a conviction will appear on a criminal record and can require a person to pay a stiff fine or spend time in jail. However, for people already facing criminal accusations and awaiting trial, the penalties can have a more immediate impact.
A person who fails to appear in court while awaiting trial may have to forfeit their bail. This is due to bail being a promise to appear when required in the future. At the same time, the onset of a new criminal charge can also be a reason for a judge to revoke bail while awaiting the end of a current criminal case.
As a result, it is vital to present a potent defense against allegations that an individual has skipped a hearing, which must be “willful” to count as criminal conduct. Evidence of a medical emergency or even something as trivial as having car trouble when attempting to come to court could help convince a judge to not impose a penalty. A Columbia failure to appear lawyer could help someone explain the situation in such a way that they will not get penalized for a minor mistake.
Every person who receives an order to appear before a criminal court must follow that order. This applies equally to those already facing criminal accusations and those with other business before the court. Not doing so can result in new criminal charges, a withdrawal of bail, and the issuance of a bench warrant for immediate arrest. Reach out to a Columbia failure to appear lawyer if this situation applies to you. They could protect your rights moving forward and provide reliable legal advice.