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Failure to Appear on a Warrant

When a person does not appear for a court date in Florida after posting bond, receiving a notice to appear, or released on recognizance (ROR), the court may issue a bench warrant (also known as a capias) for that individual’s arrest. Bench warrants are often “no-bond” warrants, which means that people taken into custody on them cannot bond out of jail after being arrested and are forced to wait until they can appear in court before the judge.

In addition to the underlying criminal charge that was the basis for the original court appearance, the alleged offender could also face a new criminal charge for Failure To Appear (FTA). Failure To Appear for court dates can result in possible forfeiture of any bond posted, including money or collateral.

Attorney for Failure to Appear Warrants in St. Petersburg, FL

Melinda Morris is an experienced criminal defense lawyer in St. Petersburg who represents clients in Pinellas County, Hillsborough County, Manatee County, Pasco County, and Sarasota County.

Call (727) 388-4736 to set up a free initial consultation that will allow our attorneys to review your case and discuss all of your legal options.


Overview of Failure to Appear Warrants in Florida


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Failure to Appear Charges in Pinellas County

When a court issues a warrant for a person’s arrest based on his or her failure to appear in court, the state can amend the original information to add the charge of Failure To Appear. In order to convict an alleged offender of Failure To Appear, the State will need to prove the three following things beyond a reasonable doubt:

  • The alleged offender was released from custody pursuant to Florida’s bail statute;
  • The alleged offender was released in connection with a felony or misdemeanor charge, while awaiting sentencing, or pending review by certiorari after conviction of a criminal offense; and
  • After his or her release, the alleged offender willfully failed to appear as required for the proceeding before a court or judicial officer.

Willfully is defined in the Florida Standard Jury as meaning “intentionally, knowingly, and purposely.” Thus, extenuating circumstances (such as medical emergencies or automobile accidents) are often used as valid defenses to Failure To Appear charges.


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Failure to Appear Penalties in St. Petersburg

Under Florida Statute § 843.15, any person who was released pursuant to Florida’s bail statute and willfully failed to appear before any court or judicial officer as required will incur a forfeiture of any security that was given or pledged for her or his release. Additionally, the criminal charge of failure to appear is classified as follows, depending on the nature of the underlying offense:

  • If the release was in connection with a misdemeanor charge, failure to appear is a first-degree misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000;
  • If the release was in connection with a felony charge, failure to appear is a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison and/or a fine of up to $5,000.

When a person knows a Failure To Appear warrant has been issued for his or her arrest, there may be several alternative options to resolve the capias. Alleged offenders may be able to utilize a self-arrest program, immediately surrender themselves at the local jail, or a lawyer could file a motion to withdraw the arrest warrant or a motion to surrender.


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Florida Failure to Appear Warrant Resources

Warrants | Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office — On this section of the Sheriff’s website, you can find information about warrants in Pinellas County. The Sheriff’s Violent Offender Warrants Unit proactively searches for persons with warrants for violent crimes, and you can learn how to submit anonymous tips about such alleged offenders for possible cash rewards. You can also find a link to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement website that allows you to search for statewide warrants.

Sheriff’s Office Warrants Desk
10750 Ulmerton Rd.
Largo, FL 33778
(727) 582-6192


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Attorney for Failure to Appear Warrants in Pinellas County, FL

If you missed a court appearance in the Tampa Bay area and now fear a warrant has been issued for your arrest, it is in your best interest to immediately retain legal counsel. The Morris Law Firm, P.A. defends clients in Largo, Clearwater, Dunedin, Pinellas Park, and the other cities in Pinellas County.

As a former prosecutor for the State Attorney’s Office in Pinellas County, St. Petersburg criminal defense attorney Melinda Morris understands the most effective ways to handle these cases. She can provide a complete evaluation of your case when you call (727) 388-4736 or fill out an online contact form.


This article was last updated on Friday, July 28, 2016.