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Can you defend yourself against a failure to appear charge?

If you are charged with a criminal offense, one of the conditions the court will set forth for your bail is attending your court dates. Skipping court (also known as jumping bail) is a huge mistake; one that can lead to a range of legal and personal consequences. While honoring your court dates is extremely essential, sometimes things happen that make it impossible for defendants like you to appear. If you unintentionally jumped your New Jersey bail, do not panic. There are steps you can take to potentially rectify the situation and avoid costly consequences.

What are the consequences of jumping bail?

A missed court date is a big deal. Per New Jersey laws, a judge will issue a bench warrant against you if you fail to appear. Additionally, you may lose your bail money, meaning that you will owe the bail bond company or individual who paid your bail. Finally, you may face additional charges if you jump bail.

Valid and invalid reasons for jumping bail

You will need to explain to the court why you missed your court date. Here are examples of justifiable reasons for missing court:

  • Not knowing you had a court date due to improper notification
  • A medical emergency that required you to be in the hospital on your court date
  • An accident that made it impossible to attend court

On the other hand, here are unacceptable reasons for jumping bail:

  • Forgetting your court date
  • Assuming the judge waived your appearance
  • Moving and failing to notify the court of your change of address
  • Bad weather
  • Getting stuck in traffic or lacking a means of transportation to court

Protecting your rights

Whether your reason for missing court was justified or not, it is important that you take appropriate steps to remedy the situation. Learning more about New Jersey criminal justice system and working with a skilled legal professional can help you protect your rights when charged with failure to appear.

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