10 Sep

Fail to Appear – What happens

Jail barsIt an offence to fail to appear in court in accordance with a bail undertaking. The court has the power to revoke the bail undertaking, forfeit any sureties and issue a warrant for your arrest.

What if I had a really good reason for failing to appear?

The Court requires a person to show cause why they have failed to appear and in some exceptional cases, the court will accept a lawful excuse and discharge the person. In showing cause the person needs to establish that they were unable to attend court.  An example might be that the accused person was in hospital with a reasonable medical condition that prevented them from appearing.

The court will not only require you to show that you had reasonable cause for failing to surrender into custody but that you surrendered into custody as soon after the time as is reasonably practicable.

What do I do if I have failed to appear?

The court will generally issue a warrant once a person fails to appear.  This warrant will be provided to the police in an effort to locate you and have you brought before the Court.

The preferable approach is for you to surrender yourself to police rather than have them come looking for you.  The Court will more readily accept that you made a mistake and were not trying to abscond if you hand yourself in.

You will be arrested by police for the offence of fail to appear and will be offered to opportunity to provide a reason.

What will happen to me after I surrender myself to the police?

You will be held in custody and produced to the court that issued the warrant.

Upon production to the court they shall call upon you to prove why you should not be convicted of an offence against the section. If you are unable to show cause you will be sentenced and you will need to reapply for bail on the substantive offence.

What are the penalties for failing to appear?

In some circumstances, it is possible to be found guilty of the offence and not have a conviction recorded. However many courts treat the offence as serious and can impose periods of actual imprisonment.

Regardless of the penalty, a conviction for failing to appear can have an impact on assessing future applications for bail.  A conviction may persuade the court that an accused is an unacceptable risk of failing to appear and result in a refusal of bail.   It may even result in the revocation of bail and forfeiture of monies pledged by a surety.

It is imperative that you surrender yourself as expeditiously as possible and seek professional advice from an experienced criminal lawyer who specialises in bail matters.