Failure to Appear in Georgia

In February of 1934, John Sheehan Jr. failed to appear in Magistrate Court to answer a charge of suspicion of larceny. That failure to appear cost Sheehan his $1,000 bail bond and resulted in a warrant being issued for his arrest. Failure to appear warrants are used across the United States to “persuade” those who may have forgotten about a ticket (or simply chose not to address the issue) to come in and pay the original tickets. Unfortunately, once you receive a Failure to Appear, your situation has become significantly more difficult to resolve.

How a Failure to Appear Charge Occurs
Perhaps you—like many of us—received a traffic citation, took it home and stuffed it in a drawer, fully intending to go to court and plead your case, or pay your fine. Then life got busy and somehow you completely forgot about your citation, until you received a Failure to Appear notification. It is important to remember that when you sign a traffic citation, you are, in essence, promising to appear in court. If you fail to pay your fine prior to your court date, and do not appear as promised, you could garner a separate charge of Failure to Appear.

Lest you think a Failure to Appear notification cannot be all that serious—because, after all, your traffic citation was not all that serious—you should be aware that you could actually be arrested and/or have to pay significant penalties. Further, you are no longer allowed to just pay your original fine by mail, online, in person or over the phone prior to your next court date, rather must appear before a judge.

What are the Penalties for a Failure to Appear?
If you receive a Failure to Appear in the state of Georgia, you could be fined several hundred dollars. Further, if you originally had several traffic infractions, you could receive separate fines for each infraction (although a judge can waive this penalty if you are able to show good reason for not appearing). You may also have your Georgia driver’s license suspended if you fail to appear in court for traffic violations.

To have your driver’s license reinstated, you will need to take care of the traffic citations and your Failure to Appear, then obtain a letter from the court which shows all your violations were properly dealt with. You will then take that letter to the Georgia Department of Driver Services and apply for a reinstatement of your license—and pay $210. While all these penalties are very serious, you could potentially have a bench warrant issued for your arrest when you fail to appear.

If you happen to be stopped by the police for another reason, you could be immediately transported to jail. A combination of these penalties could result in your losing your current job, and having difficulty finding employment in the future. As you can see, the penalties for a Failure to Appear can be very severe.

What Should You Do if You Realize You Failed to Appear for Your Court Date?
If you realize you missed your court date after the fact, do your best to resolve the situation quickly. Contact an experienced Georgia attorney to discuss your best course of action. Melanie Ellwanger is an extremely knowledgeable, results-driven Georgia criminal defense attorney who works hard to help all her clients achieve the very best possible outcome to a Failure to Appear charge. Melanie will help you deal with the underlying tickets as well as the Failure to Appear, working toward the best possible outcome in your case. Contact Melanie Ellwanger at (404) 803-3105 or at melanie@hiremelaw.com.