• North Carolina Criminal Court: 'Failure to Appear' - Missed Court Date
  • May 4, 2012
  • Law Firm: Matheson Law Office PLLC - Raleigh Office
  • North Carolina Traffic Case, for others, it may be a North Carolina Misdemeanor. As a Raleigh Criminal Lawyer handling Raleigh Traffic citations and Raleigh criminal defense I have been exposed to the North Carolina judicial system substantially. Additionally, I have also served as an Assistant District Attorney where I prosecuted criminal cases. In all of my exposure to North Carolina Judicial System, one of the most common misconceptions I have seen by the general public, with a very serious consequence, is the Failure to Appear.

    When receiving a traffic citation or criminal citation, the Defendant is ordered to come to court on a specific date. For most, this is a mild inconvenience, but still, most understand it is a requirement. However for some, they feel like they shouldn't have to come, or that they don't want to come to court to answer their charges. For others, it may just be a something that is overlooked. In either case, the Defendant in question does not understand the seriousness of their action and the consequences that come with it.

    When a Defendant does not come to court on their court date, the court will enter a "Failure to Appear" on your file. Should the charge be serious enough the court will issue an "Order for Arrest." An Order for Arrest is a blanket requirement that any Police Officer who comes upon the Defendant must arrest them at that point. This can occur for something as simple as a traffic stop over a seatbelt or tail light. For most traffic matters, an Order for Arrest will not be issued. Regardless, a Failure to Appear carries with it its own consequences as explained below.

    First, when you eventually do come to court to resolve the original charge, there is an added $200 fine associated with the Failure to Appear. Also, a Failure to Appear may affect the Judge's decision regarding important matters; for example if found guilty in District Court and the Defendant wants to appeal to Superior Court, the Judge may require a bond due to the fact that the Defendant has a Failure to Appear.

    Additionally, a Failure to Appear will be reported to the DMV. The DMV will send out a notice after 20 days informing the Defendant that should they not resolve the issue within 60 days, their license will be revoked. That will be the only notice the Defendant will receive. After the 60 days, a revocation will be in place, and though the Defendant will still be in possession of their license, if they are pulled over, the Police Officer will cite them for Driving While License Revoked. A conviction of Driving While License Revoked will result in a one-year suspension of the driver's license.

    As you can see, not coming to court can quickly spiral out of control to the point where the Defendant's original charge (something as small as a expired registration or parking ticket) can result in additional fines, problems in court, and potentially the suspension of their license with the possibility of an additional one-year suspension AFTER everything has been resolved.

    For these reasons, if you are aware of a traffic or criminal matter in North Carolina that you have not resolved, it is recommended that you speak with a local Criminal Defense Attorney so they can best advice you on how to proceed.

    Disclaimer - Information and advice offered in this article is for informational and educational purposes only and is specific to North Carolina law. The viewing, receipt and/or exchange of information from this article does not constitute an Attorney-Client Relationship. For assistance regarding your particular legal question speak with an Attorney practicing in the field from which your questions derives.