FAILURE TO APPEAR IS A VIRGINIA MISDEMEANOR & FELONY OFFENSE
Forgetting to show up in a Virginia court or skipping it on purpose is a crime. If you were supposed to appear in court on a misdemeanor charge, then not showing up is a Class 1 misdemeanor offense. If you were supposed to be there on a felony charge, the penalty for not showing up is a Class 6 felony. Penalties include jail time, revocation of bond, and other consequences in your pending charges.
If you were supposed to be in court under subpoena as a witness or a victim in a case and you did not go, then you can be charged with a misdemeanor as well.
VIRGINIA LAW ON FAILURE TO APPEAR
§ 19.2-128. Penalties for failure to appear.
A. Whoever, having been released pursuant to this chapter or § 19.2-319 or on a summons pursuant to § 19.2-73 or § 19.2-74, willfully fails to appear before any court or judicial officer as required, shall, after notice to all interested parties, incur a forfeiture of any security which may have been given or pledged for his release, unless one of the parties can show good cause for excusing the absence, or unless the court, in its sound discretion, shall determine that neither the interests of justice nor the power of the court to conduct orderly proceedings will be served by such forfeiture.
B. Any person (i) charged with a felony offense or (ii) convicted of a felony offense and execution of sentence is suspended pursuant to § 19.2-319 who willfully fails to appear before any court as required shall be guilty of a Class 6 felony.
C. Any person (i) charged with a misdemeanor offense or (ii) convicted of a misdemeanor offense and execution of sentence is suspended pursuant to § 19.2-319 who willfully fails to appear before any court as required shall be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.
§ 19.2-73. Issuance of summons instead of warrant in certain cases.
A. In any misdemeanor case or in any class of misdemeanor cases, or in any case involving complaints made by any state or local governmental official or employee having responsibility for the enforcement of any statute, ordinance or administrative regulation, the magistrate or other issuing authority having jurisdiction may issue a summons instead of a warrant when there is reason to believe that the person charged will appear in the courts having jurisdiction over the trial of the offense charged.
B. If any person under suspicion for driving while intoxicated has been taken to a medical facility for treatment or evaluation of his medical condition, the officer at the medical facility may issue, on the premises of the medical facility, a summons for a violation of § 18.2-266, 18.2-266.1, 18.2-272 or 46.2-341.24 and for refusal of tests in violation of subsection A of § 18.2-268.3 or subsection A of § 46.2-341.26:3, in lieu of securing a warrant and without having to detain that person, provided that the officer has probable cause to place him under arrest. The issuance of such summons shall be deemed an arrest for purposes of Article 2 (§ 18.2-266 et seq.) of Chapter 7 of Title 18.2.
C. Any person on whom such summons is served shall appear on the date set forth in same, and if such person fails to appear in such court at such time and on such date then he shall be treated in accordance with the provisions of § 19.2-128, regardless of the disposition of, and in addition to, the charge upon which he was originally arrested.
§ 19.2-73.1. Notice of issuance of warrant or summons; appearance; failure to appear.
In any misdemeanor case or in any class of misdemeanor cases and in a Class 5 or Class 6 felony case, the chief of police of the city or county or his designee, or the sheriff or deputy sheriff of the county, if the county has no police department, in which the case is pending may notify the accused of the issuance of the warrant or summons and direct the accused to appear at the time and place directed for the purpose of the execution of the summons or warrant. However, the issuing judicial officer may direct the execution of such process prior to any such notification. If the accused does not appear, then the warrant or summons shall be executed and returned as provided by § 19.2-76.
§ 19.2-73.2. Law-enforcement officers to issue subpoenas; penalty.
Law-enforcement officers as defined in § 9.1-101 and state police officers, in the course of their duties, in the investigation of any Class 3 or Class 4 misdemeanor or any traffic infraction, may, within seventy-two hours of the time of the offense, issue a subpoena to any witness to appear in court and testify with respect to any such criminal charge or traffic infraction brought against any person as a result of such investigation. The return of service thereof shall be made within seventy-two hours after service to the appropriate court clerk. A subpoena so issued shall have the same force and effect as if issued by the court.
Any person failing to appear in response to a subpoena issued as provided in this section shall be punished as provided by law.
§ 19.2-74. Issuance and service of summons in place of warrant in misdemeanor case; issuance of summons by special policemen and conservators of the peace.
A. 1. Whenever any person is detained by or is in the custody of an arresting officer for any violation committed in such officer’s presence which offense is a violation of any county, city or town ordinance or of any provision of this Code punishable as a Class 1 or Class 2 misdemeanor or any other misdemeanor for which he may receive a jail sentence, except as otherwise provided in Title 46.2, or for offenses listed in subsection D of § 19.2-81, or an arrest on a warrant charging an offense for which a summons may be issued, and when specifically authorized by the judicial officer issuing the warrant, the arresting officer shall take the name and address of such person and issue a summons or otherwise notify him in writing to appear at a time and place to be specified in such summons or notice. Upon the giving by such person of his written promise to appear at such time and place, the officer shall forthwith release him from custody. However, if any such person shall fail or refuse to discontinue the unlawful act, the officer may proceed according to the provisions of § 19.2-82.
Anything in this section to the contrary notwithstanding, if any person is believed by the arresting officer to be likely to disregard a summons issued under the provisions of this subsection, or if any person is reasonably believed by the arresting officer to be likely to cause harm to himself or to any other person, a magistrate or other issuing authority having jurisdiction shall proceed according to the provisions of § 19.2-82.
2. Whenever any person is detained by or is in the custody of an arresting officer for a violation of any county, city, or town ordinance or of any provision of this Code, punishable as a Class 3 or Class 4 misdemeanor or any other misdemeanor for which he cannot receive a jail sentence, except as otherwise provided in Title 46.2, or to the offense of public drunkenness as defined in § 18.2-388, the arresting officer shall take the name and address of such person and issue a summons or otherwise notify him in writing to appear at a time and place to be specified in such summons or notice. Upon the giving of such person of his written promise to appear at such time and place, the officer shall forthwith release him from custody. However, if any such person shall fail or refuse to discontinue the unlawful act, the officer may proceed according to the provisions of § 19.2-82.
3. Any person so summoned shall not be held in custody after the issuance of such summons for the purpose of complying with the requirements of Chapter 23 (§ 19.2-387 et seq.) of this title. Reports to the Central Criminal Records Exchange concerning such persons shall be made after a disposition of guilt is entered as provided for in § 19.2-390.
Any person refusing to give such written promise to appear under the provisions of this section shall be taken immediately by the arresting or other police officer before a magistrate or other issuing authority having jurisdiction, who shall proceed according to provisions of § 19.2-82.
Any person who willfully violates his written promise to appear, given in accordance with this section, shall be treated in accordance with the provisions of § 19.2-128, regardless of the disposition of, and in addition to, the charge upon which he was originally arrested.
Any person charged with committing any violation of § 18.2-407 may be arrested and immediately brought before a magistrate who shall proceed as provided in § 19.2-82.
B. Special policemen of the counties as provided in § 15.2-1737, special policemen or conservators of the peace appointed under Chapter 2 (§ 19.2-12 et seq.) of this title and special policemen appointed by authority of a city’s charter may issue summonses pursuant to this section, if such officers are in uniform, or displaying a badge of office. On application, the chief law-enforcement officer of the county or city shall supply each officer with a supply of summons forms, for which such officer shall account pursuant to regulation of such chief law-enforcement officer.
C. The summons used by a law-enforcement officer pursuant to this section shall be in form the same as the uniform summons for motor vehicle law violations as prescribed pursuant to § 46.2-388.[notice]*This article is for your personal information only and is not intended as legal advice. Nothing herein shall create an attorney – client relationship. This area of the law is very complex. Every case is different and the information contained herein is general. This information is not intended to be legal advice. Nor is this material intended to replace consultation with a lawyer. Always consult a licensed lawyer for your particular case. Call 703.870.6868 for a consultation.[/notice] [hideit hide=”.tags”]