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Being charged with a crime or receiving a traffic ticket is no fun. And what’s worse? Having the court schedule your hearing, arraignment, conference, sentencing, or other proceeding on its calendar and you forget, or fail, to appear. 

If juggling your personal life mistakenly placed the court date in the back of your mind, the court will not view your non-appearance as a mistake. 

When the judge signs a summons and you violate that order, the court issues a failure to appear (FTA) which comes with steep consequences. At this point, you can try to face the court alone, or you can seek the assistance of a Denver criminal defense lawyer to help you sort through your legal options.

What is a failure to appear (FTA) in Colorado courts?

A failure to appear is a punishment given when a person refuses to show up in court for a legal proceeding.   

The Colorado Revised Statutes is the governing law for failure to appear. 

C.R.S. 16-2-110 basically says anyone that has been served with a summons and fails to appear in court, at the scheduled place and time, may be issued a bench warrant. 

If you’re wondering if there’s any circumstance where this rule does not apply, you’re in luck. 

The rule does not apply when you hire a Denver criminal defense attorney to appear on your behalf.

Do I always have to appear in court in Colorado?

In certain situations, you may be given the option to pay the fine before the required court date. If so, you may not have to appear in court.  

For example, if you receive a traffic ticket, you may be able to pay the fee instead of going to court. Just remember, paying the traffic ticket means you are pleading guilty to the charge in question. During this time, you may ask yourself, “Should I pay or fight my Colorado traffic ticket?

But if you want to fight the traffic ticket and possibly get the case dismissed or thrown out, you must be present before the judge on the date and time listed on the ticket.

Consequences of failing to appear in Colorado court

Colorado man arrested for failure to appear in Colorado court.
Failure to appear in Colorado court can get you served with an arrest warrant but an experienced Denver criminal attorney can appear in court for you.

 

Your signature on a traffic ticket means you agree to the terms of the court, including appearing for all scheduled court dates.

The act of signing is a promise to go to court. In fact, the city of Colorado Springs traffic court says states:

“When you sign a traffic summons in front of the police officer, you have made a promise to appear in court. 

By law, any change must also be in writing. 

Failure to pay a traffic summons in full by the required date, or failure to appear in Colorado court when scheduled will result in the issuance of an arrest warrant.”

A failure to appear in Colorado comes with the following consequences:

Warrants are issued on a daily basis for failure to appear. In one recent example, the former IT director for the town of Vail was a no-show in Colorado criminal court in November. 

His failure to appear caused the judge to immediately issue bench warrants for him.

The consequences of Colorado FTAs do not go away

No matter how much you try to ignore the FTA warrant, it will not go away. 

There is no statute of limitations on the outcomes of failures to appear in Colorado. Ten years can pass by and the FTA warrant would still be in effect. 

The best method for handling what comes next after a failure to appear is to hire a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney in Colorado who can keep you out of hot water with the court.

Colorado’s attempt to reduce arrest warrants

Early in 2020, the Colorado legislature introduced a bill that would eliminate arrest warrants for failures to appear. 

The Grace Period Bill would extend a 72 hour window for defendants to appear in court after missing the initial scheduled date. 

Unfortunately, there has been no official movement on the bill, and since February 27, 2020, it is postponed indefinitely.

How to handle a failure to appear warrant in Colorado

So, what can you do about this pesky failure to appear you just received? You can handle a failure to appear by taking one step: providing the judge with a good reason why you missed court.

Judges are human beings who may understand a valid reason for missing court, such as:

  • Couldn’t take time off work
  • Lack of knowledge
  • Miscommunication with the court
  • Death in the family
  • Inclement weather

Get help with your Colorado failure to appear warrants

When you retain the services of a knowledgeable Denver criminal defense attorney, your warrant may be recalled. 

If you act swiftly and take advantage of our free consultation, the Law Offices of Steven J. Pisani, LLC may be able to get a new court date so you can get a fresh start in defending yourself during this trying time. Give us a call today to discuss next steps.

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Failure to appear in Colorado court can get you served with an arrest warrant but an experienced Denver criminal attorney can appear in court for you.

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