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Valid Reasons for Failure to Appear in Court

10 Valid Excuses for Failure to Appear in Court

Information on Failure to Appear at Court Hearing

The repercussions of failing to appear in court are substantial, potentially compounding the legal challenges faced even by those initially released on bail. Many excuses that individuals tend to present in such situations are often disregarded by the court, leading not only to additional charges but also the potential necessity of a bail bond for the failure to appear, thereby exacerbating their legal issues.

Common excuses like oversleeping, forgetting the date, or attending to personal tasks such as dropping a child off at school, are typically not recognized as valid reasons for failure to appear in court. Consequently, these excuses are unlikely to mitigate the charges against you.

However, there are certain circumstances that might genuinely prevent you from appearing in court. If appropriately conveyed to a judge, these could potentially be accepted as valid reasons for your absence.

If you are facing the prospect of being charged with failure to appear, it’s imperative to understand and identify if you had a legitimate reason for your absence. This understanding could potentially save you significant amounts of time and money and could alleviate some of the legal complications you might otherwise face.

This article aims to provide a comprehensive guide to understanding ‘Failure to Appear’ charges, with a specific focus on the valid reasons that could justify failure to appear in court. Our goal is to help you navigate these complex legal situations with better insight and confidence.

10 Best Reasons For Failure to Appear in Court

10 Best Reasons For Failure to Appear in Court

Although ‘Failure to Appear’ (FTA) charges can result in severe penalties, certain exceptions may absolve you of fault. The court might grant leniency if you can demonstrate a ‘good cause for failure to appear’, which refers to legitimate, often unforeseen reasons that hinder your court attendance. The definition of ‘good cause’ varies with the unique circumstances of each case.

In particular, there are three primary scenarios where the court may deem an FTA as justified.

  1. Unpredictable Emergencies: Life is unpredictable, and emergencies can happen at any time. If a sudden, unforeseeable crisis occurs that prevents you from notifying the court in time or attending the hearing, you might be excused from an FTA charge. A classic example is an urgent medical emergency, such as being rushed to the hospital and detained overnight for observation or treatment. In cases involving critical surgeries or health crises, you might not have the chance to inform the court about your inability to appear.
  2. Sudden Withdrawal of Legal Representation: In instances where you have a legal representative expected to attend court on your behalf, and they suddenly withdraw their services (typically within a week before the hearing), you could be exempted from responsibility. This exception applies if you weren’t aware that your representative wouldn’t be present at the hearing, thereby leaving you unprepared to attend the court session.
  3. Lack of Hearing Notification: This scenario is among the most frequent reasons for a good cause for an FTA. If the court fails to send out a notice about your hearing date, you cannot be held liable for not appearing. It’s important to note, however, that this excuse is valid only if the court didn’t send the notice. If the notice was sent, but you didn’t receive it due to a change of address or any other personal reason, the court typically holds you responsible for the missed appearance as it’s your duty to keep your contact information updated with the court.

Lack of Hearing Notification

  1. Incarceration: If you are serving time in jail or prison and can’t physically attend your court date, this may serve as a valid excuse. You should, however, inform the court of your circumstances.
  2. Military Service: Individuals deployed on active duty in the military may have a legitimate reason for failing to appear in court. It’s vital to provide evidence of your deployment orders to the court as soon as possible.
  3. Subpoenaed in Another Court: If you’re required to attend another court proceeding at the same time, you have a plausible excuse for failing to appear in the first court. You’ll need to provide a copy of the other subpoena or court order.
  4. Severe Weather or Natural Disasters: Severe weather conditions or natural disasters like hurricanes, floods, or wildfires that prevent you from getting to court could also be considered a valid reason.

Severe Weather or Natural Disasters

  1. Transportation Issues: If you can prove that you had significant, unavoidable transportation issues such as a car breakdown on the way to court, the court might take this into account.
  2. Caring for a Sick Dependent: If you are a caregiver to a seriously ill dependent, and there was a medical emergency with your dependent on your court date, this might also serve as a legitimate reason.
  3. Court Error: If the court makes an error, such as scheduling your appearance on a date when the court is not open, this would likely be considered a valid excuse.

Remember, while these are common excuses deemed acceptable by courts, each case is considered individually, and outcomes may vary.

What Excuses are Not Accepted in Failure to Appear Cases?

What Excuses are Not Accepted in Failure to Appear Cases?


Now that we’ve explored several valid reasons that may absolve you from a ‘Failure to Appear’ (FTA) charge, it’s equally crucial to recognize the excuses that are typically not accepted by the court. If an FTA charge is levied due to any of the following circumstances, the chances of evading the charge are generally low:

  1. Intentional Court Avoidance: If the court determines that you deliberately avoided attending your hearing, this will not be considered a legitimate excuse. Consciously evading legal responsibilities is frowned upon and can exacerbate the penalties associated with an FTA charge.
  2. Forgetfulness: Simply forgetting your court date is not usually deemed a valid reason for failing to appear in court. Courts expect individuals to manage their legal responsibilities diligently, which includes keeping track of important dates.
  3. Previous Engagements: If you missed your court date due to another appointment, whether it be a doctor’s appointment, a business meeting, or another personal obligation, it is generally not considered a valid reason for non-appearance. The court typically expects you to prioritize legal obligations over personal engagements.
  4. Employment Commitments: Being scheduled to work during your court date is not usually an acceptable excuse for failure to appear. While maintaining employment is important, it’s expected that you arrange time off for your court appearance.

Employment Commitments

  1. Unreceived Notice due to Relocation: If you have moved and did not receive a court notice due to a failure to update your address with the court, you will likely be held responsible. The obligation is on you to ensure the court has your current contact information.

While these reasons might appear reasonable in your perspective, they are generally not deemed appropriate legal justifications for an FTA. It’s important to consult with a legal professional to understand your rights and responsibilities fully and to mitigate the potential consequences of an FTA.

While some of these excuses might seem valid to you, they will not be considered appropriate excuses in the eyes of the law.

More Information on Failure to Appear Cases

Each case is clearly different. For more information about your bond or failure to appear in court predicament, contact one of our Hartford bail bondsmen today by calling us at 860-420-2245

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