By Jesse Fellabaum
Are you flooded with anxiety as you await your day in court? You may have a criminal history that will add to the fines and possibly trigger jail time. While it may be tempting to want to avoid the court room all together, you’ll only create more legal and financial problems for yourself and those you love if you flee.
Previously, we explained what happens when a “Type 1 defendant” fails to appear as ordered. There are many reasons a Type 1 defendant didn’t show up – they forgot the date, relocated and didn’t receive the notice, are afraid of the consequences, can’t afford the fines and fees, or couldn’t take off work. Type 1 defendants who place a call to their bonding company will find an ally to help negotiate with the court. Some courts even accept payment plans to stretch out a financial obligation. In short, Type 1 defendants’ situations can be fixed.
The same is not always true for “Type 2 defendants,” many of whom had little to no intention of showing up in the first place. These defendants have criminal records and could be facing mandatory jail time with the most recent offense. For them, skipping court becomes a viable option considering the weight of the life-changing consequences that await them.
Once they understand the impact of the failure to appear (FTA) decision, most Type 2 defendants see the error in their thinking. Not only will the court issue a Bench Warrant for your immediate arrest, the bonding company that put up your bail will inform your co-signer (the person who came to your rescue when you were in jail) that he or she is now on the hook financially for the entire amount of your bail.
Then, you can expect the bondsman will get creative and use the Internet to track down all of your relatives and any other names associated with you. They WILL find you.
What happened when a Type 2 defendant fled Georgia
Recently, a man A 2nd Chance had posted bail for a couple of times contacted us again for help. We posted his bail and he was released. Unfortunately, he did not appear as ordered and the court issued the dreaded Bench Warrant. He made matters even worse by fleeing to Tennessee, which added a new charge to the misdemeanor he was facing.
When law enforcement in Tennessee picked him up on an unrelated charge a few months later, he was convicted and sent to prison for two years. However, the charges against him in Georgia remained open. While he was incarcerated, A 2nd Chance testified before a grand jury in Georgia to verify the timeline of the local charges against him. In addition, we offered to pay any and all expenses the state of Tennessee would incur when they returned him to Georgia. The grand jury recommended to the judge that he be extradited to Georgia as soon as he completed his sentence in Tennessee. When this Type 2 defendant was sent to Georgia, the case against him was able to proceed. However, instead of facing the original charge of a single misdemeanor, the defendant now faced two charges. His decision to flee the state had triggered a new felony charge: Felony Bail Jumping.
Most people don’t know that local law enforcement agencies incur a considerable cost when they return a fugitive to his or her home state. Many of these agencies don’t have the budget to underwrite the travel expense, so they don’t pursue bail jumpers. Our company maintains a hefty financial reserve to reimburse any local agency’s expenses related to returning one of our clients to his or her original jurisdiction.
Feeling anxious is normal whether you are facing a misdemeanor or a felony charge. However, don’t let your emotions get the best of you. Appearing in court as ordered allows you to deal with the unknowns and possibly move past them. Choosing to skip your court date creates more legal problems, increases most fines and leads to your immediate arrest.