Maine attorney for workers' compensation, criminal defense, civil litigation, and small business matters.

Maine criminal law blog

A humble collection of pieces about issues in Maine criminal law and procedure by Maine attorney Zachary J. Smith.

Failure to Appear

When someone who has been accused of a crime fails to appear for a scheduled court appearance — which could include anything from an arraignment after a summons to a sentencing hearing after a conviction — the court almost always issues a bench warrant for the defendant’s arrest. When someone with a bench warrant encounters law enforcement, he or she must be arrested and brought to jail.

I’ve written about the importance of showing up for your court dates before, and I’ll repeat myself here. Don’t skip any court appearance, unless your lawyer tells you it’s ok. It seems simple, yet a significant percentage of people fail to show up after they receive a summons. Less frequently, they don’t show up for subsequent court dates.

Failure to appear often annoys the prosecutor on your case and whoever happens to be the judge that day. It also makes any argument for bail difficult, because one of the purposes of bail is to ensure any given defendant will attend court; I’ve found myself with the impossible task of trying to convince a judge that my client should have unsecured bail after he or she declined to come to court when scheduled. Failure to appear can lead to a complete revocation of bail, meaning that you’ll be stuck in jail until your case is over. Perhaps more importantly, failure to appear is a crime unto itself, and it’s easy to prove (and sometimes felony-level).