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Failure to Appear at Court

PC 1320 & 853.7

Information on the crime of failure to appear at court is found at California penal code sections 1320, 1320.5, and 853.7. Failure to appear charges generally appear as FTA in court documents and criminal filings. This article covers the law, the punishments, and the defenses that are associated with California failure to appear crimes.

The Laws

PC 1320(a): Every person who is charged with, or convicted of, the commission of a misdemeanor, who is released from custody on his or her own recognizance, and who in order to evade the process of the court, willfully fails to appear as required, is guilty of a misdemeanor (abbrev.).

PC 1320(b): Every person who is charged with or convicted of the commission of a felony who is released from custody on his or her own recognizance and who in order to evade the process of the court willfully fails to appear as required, is guilty of a felony willful failure to appear (Abbrev.).

PC 1320.5: Every person who is charged with or convicted of the commission of a felony, who is released from custody on bail, and who in order to evade the process of the court willfully fails to appear as required, is guilty of willful failure to appear after bail (Abbrev.).

Note: Per PC 1320(a), 1320(b), and 1320.5, it shall be presumed that a defendant who willfully fails to appear within 14 days of the date assigned for his or her appearance intended to evade the process of the court. This presumption maybe overcome, but it is the defendant who must present evidence in order to overcome this presumption.

 

Note: The main difference between PC 1320(a) and 1320.5 is whether or not the defendant failed to appear at court after a written promise to appear (PC 1320(a)) or failed to appear at court after being released on bail (PC 1320.5).

PC 853.7: Any person who willfully violates his or her written promise to appear or a lawfully granted continuance of his or her promise to appear in court is guilty of a misdemeanor, regardless of the disposition of the charge upon which he or she was originally arrested.

Note: The main difference between PC 1320 crimes and PC 853.7: In PC 853.7 cases, the defendant is not release on his or her own recognizance and in PC 1320 cases the defendant is release his or her own recognizance (PC 1320(a)), or after making bail (PC 1320.5). You will mostly find PC 853.7 charges where the defendant was not arrested, but rather, he or she was cited by a peace officer with an order to appear in court and the defendant does not appear.

Penalties

PC 1320(a): Failure to appear, charged under PC 1320(a), is classified as a misdemeanor. If found guilty of PC 1320(a), the defendant could face up to 180 days in jail.

PC 1320(b): Failure to appear on a felony crime is charged as a misdemeanor or as a felony (wobbler). If found guilty of PC 1320(b) as a misdemeanor, the defendant could face up to one year in jail. If found guilty of PC 1320(b) as a felony, the defendant could face up to three years in jail.

PC 1320.5: Failure to appear after a granting of bail is charged as misdemeanor or as a felony (wobbler). If found guilty of misdemeanor PC 1320.5, the defendant could face up to one year in jail. If found guilty of PC 1320.5 as a felony, the defendant could face up to three years in jail.

PC 853.7: Failure to appear is charged as a misdemeanor (regardless of the underlying offense for which the defendant failed to appear). If found guilty of PC 853.7, the defendant could face up to 180 days in jail.

Probation: probation in criminal law is period of supervision, as opposed to jail. Probation sentences, with or without some alternative to jail, such as work release, are allowed in failure to appear cases, including PC 1320, 1320.5 and 853.7. Whether or not a probation sentence will be granted depends on factors such as the defendant's criminal history, the circumstance surrounding the failure to appear (any prior failure to appear instances, etc.), and more.

PC 1170(a) Sentencing: If the defendant is found guilty of failure to appear pursuant to PC 1320(b) or 1320.5, and the defendant is not granted probation, then he or she will be allowed to serve his or her incarceration in a local county jail, as opposed to a state prison. Also, any jail sentence imposed after a conviction for these crimes may be split (served partially in custody and partially out of custody on house arrest or work release), or suspended (not served unless the defendant willfully violates a term of probation.

50% of Sentence: If the defendant is sentence to jail or work release, then he or she may earn up to a  fifty percent reduction of his or her sentence for good behavior while at jail or on work release This is also known as day for day credit (one extra day off a jail sentence for one day served).

In addition to any of the above listed punishments, if found guilty of failing to appear at court (FTA), the defendant could suffer any of the following: fines and fees, denial of bail, loss the right to own or possess firearms (in felony cases), denial of entry into the armed services (Navy, Marines, Air Force, coast Guard, Army), loss of immigration status or professional licensing status, and more.

Defenses to FTA

Common defenses to a charge of willful failure to appear at court include: Defendant could not appear or contact the court due to a physical disability or illness, genuine mistake of fact as to the court date, insanity, unclear or ambiguous order to appear, and more.  

If you have been charged with the crime of failure to appear at court (FTA), or PC 1320(a), 1320(b), 1320.5, or 853.7, contact our criminal defense lawyers today to discuss your rights and defense options. Out criminal defense lawyers are always available to answer your questions and assist your in court. Call today!

909-913-3138

Quick Reference​ Sheet

Crime: Failure to Appear at Court

Code: PC 853.7

Wobbler: PC 853.7 is not a wobbler, PC 853.7 is only charged as a misdemeanor.

Incarceration:PC 853.7 jail sentence up to 180 days.

Probation: Probation may be available in PC 853.7 cases (assuming other crimes or enhancements that bar a probation sentence are not present). Whether or not a probation sentence is offered by the District Attorney, or granted by the court, depends on several factors, including the defendant's criminal history and the facts of the case.​

Work Release or House Arrest: In some cases, a probation sentence can include actual in-custody county jail, house arrest (electronic monitoring), or work release (or some combination of these penalties); however, most in-custody jail sentence orders that are required as a terms of probation are much shorter than the maximum jail sentence.

Strike: PC 853.7 is not a strike offense listed in California's Three Strikes law.

Credits: 50% good conduct credits available.

CIMT: PC 853.7 is not a crime involving moral turpitude.

Bail: $50,000 (Misdemeanor) (San Bernardino County)

Note: More penalties, direct or indirect, may apply. This info is created for that purpose only; accuracy not guaranteed. No attorney/client relationship is formed by use of this info.

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