Georgia Failure to Appear Warrants: How They Happen and How To Fix Them

Whether you have received a traffic citation or are being charged with a criminal offense in a Georgia criminal court, failing to appear in court can have major consequences. These consequences may include:

  • Arrest pursuant to a bench warrant,
  • Driver’s License Suspension,
  • Jail for up to 3 days or a fine of up to $200.

Bench Warrants

Per O.C.G.A. § 17-7-90, a Georgia bench warrant may be issued for a person’s arrest when that person fails to appear in court after:

  • Receiving notice of an impending court date in open court,
  • A notice was mailed to the person’s last known address which contains the court date, time, and location, or
  • The person has been notified of an impending court date personally, in writing, by a court official or an officer of the court.

If a bench warrant is issued, all law enforcement officers within the jurisdiction are required to execute the warrant and arrest the individual. That means that if, for example, you are pulled over speeding while you have an active bench warrant, the officer will take you into custody, even if most people who are stopped for speeding are merely ticketed. A person arrested pursuant to a bench warrant must stay in jail until bail is tendered.

License Suspension Resulting from an FTA

O.C.G.A. § 40-5-56 mandates the suspension of the driver’s license of any individual who fails to appear in court in Georgia or in another state for a traffic violation (not including parking tickets). Georgia traffic citations are required to include language informing Georgia drivers of this provision. The language included in the traffic citation is deemed by law to be sufficient notice of suspension, and a person who continues to drive may be convicted of Driving on a Suspended License. That said, the Department of Driver Services is also required to send a notice of suspension via certified mail.

The suspension pursuant to an FTA shall last until the person responds to the citation and pays any fines completes any other court-ordered conditions. Once all conditions of the court have been met, proof thereof may be presented to the Department of Driver Services and a reinstatement fee of $100 may be paid in order to reinstate driving privileges.

Jail Time or Fine

O.C.G.A. § 40-13-63 provides for legal penalty for the “willful failure of any person to appear in accordance with the written promise contained on the citation and complaint and served upon such person.” This penalty may result in a fine not to exceed $200 or a period of confinement in jail not to exceed 3 days.

Do I Need an Attorney for an FTA?

If you think you might have an FTA due to missing a court date for a traffic or other offense, you shouldn’t panic, but you should call a Georgia Criminal Defense Attorney immediately. Most of the time, an FTA and the underlying offense can be cleared up on the same court date, but you should never try to handle your case alone. Don’t run the risk of being arrested or having your license suspended. Click here to call me now.

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