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Penal Code 1214.1 PC – Fines for Failure to Appear

By Spodek Law Group | July 9, 2021
(Last Updated On: February 26, 2023)

Last Updated on: 26th February 2023, 05:18 am

Fines Levied for Failure to Appear in Court in California: A Comprehensive Overview by Spodek Law Group

As the saying goes, ignorance of the law is no excuse. Anyone who is charged with a crime in California and ordered to appear in court must do so, or they could be facing additional legal consequences. This article, brought to you by Spodek Law Group, provides an overview of the fines and penalties associated with failing to appear in court for a necessary criminal procedure in California.

What fines are levied under 1214.1 PC?

California Penal Code 1214.1 PC establishes that anyone who fails to attend a court-ordered criminal procedure must pay a $300 fine. This penalty applies to all kinds of criminal charges, whether they are infractions, misdemeanors, or felonies.

It is essential to remember that in order to be penalized under this statute, the prosecution must prove two key points. First, the defendant must have been served with a summons to appear in court, and second, the defendant must have disregarded the notice “without good cause.” If a defendant had a good reason for failing to appear, such as an emergency, they may have a valid legal defense to any allegations under PC 1214.1.

Is not showing up in court actually a crime?

If a person is charged with or convicted of a California crime, is released from custody, and then willfully fails to appear in court as required in order to circumvent the court’s process, they may be charged with “failure to appear” in California. The crime of “failure to appear” is defined in California Penal Code 1320 for defendants who are released on their own recognizance, and for California offenders who have been released on bail, Penal Code 1320.5 defines “failure to appear.”

The penalties for failing to appear in court in California vary depending on the type of offense for which the person was charged or convicted. If the defendant was charged with or convicted of a misdemeanor and released on their own recognizance, failure to appear is a misdemeanor with a potential sentence of up to six months in county jail. On the other hand, if the person was charged with or convicted of a felony and either released on their own recognizance or bail, failure to appear is a felony with a potential sentence of up to one year in county jail.

What legal defenses are there?

If a defendant is charged with a crime under PC 1320 or 1320.5, there are several legal defenses that may be available. For example, a defendant may be able to demonstrate that they did not willfully fail to attend and did not attempt to evade the court’s process.

In terms of the first defense, it’s important to note that to be found guilty under these statutes, a person must act “willfully.” This means that claiming that the defendant did not act with malicious intent is always a defense. For instance, a defendant may have been completely unaware of a court date or procedure.

As for the second defense, keep in mind that a defendant can only be charged under these provisions if they had the express intention of avoiding the court’s process. As a result, a defendant’s defense may be to establish that they did not act with the required purpose. Perhaps they had to cancel a court appearance due to a family emergency.

Could I be charged under Vehicle Code 40508 VC on top of this penal code statute?

Failure to appear in court for a traffic ticket is also a crime under California law, as defined by Vehicle Code 40508 VC. To convict someone under this act, a prosecutor must prove three key points: that the defendant was issued a traffic citation, that the offender signed a written pledge to appear in court (typically traffic court), and that the accused then intentionally failed to appear.

If convicted of violating VC 40508, the defendant may face a misdemeanor charge, a maximum sentence of six months in county jail, a fine of up to $1,000, and/or a suspended driver’s license.

Contact Spodek Law Group for Assistance

If you or someone you know has been charged with failing to appear in court for a necessary criminal procedure in California, it is important to seek legal representation from an experienced California criminal defense attorney. At Spodek Law Group, we have a team of skilled attorneys who are well-versed in California’s legal system and can help you understand your legal options.

We offer free consultations to clients and can answer any questions you may have about your case. Contact us today to schedule an appointment and receive the legal guidance you need.

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