How Do I Avoid Going to Jail For Failure to Appear for Traffic Tickets in Texas?
In addition to the issuance of the warrant by the judge, the State almost always files a new charge against you called a "Failure to Appear" which is also a Class C Misdemeanor which you will also have to answer for. If you fail to take care of your citation prior to the appearance date on the citation, or fail to appear in court as required, the court may issue a warrant for your arrest. You may also be charged with an additional offense for violating your promise to appear. The issuance of a warrant carries additional fees, and the punishment for the offense of "violate promise to appear" is a fine of not more than $200.00.
If you fail to appear after posting bail, you may be charged with the offense of "failure to appear." The punishment for "failure to appear" is a fine not to exceed $500.00.
To avoid being arrested, you should post a bond as soon as possible. This can be done in one of two ways. You can post cash bonds. Posting a cash bond involves posting your own cash money with the court in the amount of bonds set by the judge. You are basically putting up your own money promising to appear at some future date. If you fail to appear, the court can keep all your bond money and new warrants will be issued for your arrest again.
You can also pay an attorney bondsman or a bonding company a non-refundable fee to post surety bonds on your behalf with the court to remove the warrant. This is less expensive than posting the whole bond amount in cash with the court as you would when posting a cash bond. As with cash bonds, if a surety post bonds on your behalf, you must appear for your court dates or warrants will be issued again for your failure to appear.
Most misdemeanor warrants require a court appearance to solve the problem. In most courts, it is the court clerk that assigns court dates and they can set dates for warrant cases. However, some warrants are issued in the traffic division, and some from a criminal division. You may have to check with both division clerks.
Generally, the best way to get a court date is to go in person to the court clerks office at 8:00 and request a walk in appearance. In most misdemeanor cases, an attorney can do this work without the client having to appear in court. But if a person is arrested for a warrant, the arresting agency will set a court date. If there is a set bail on the warrant from the court, a defendant can also hire a bail bond company (or post bail themselves at the court clerk) and then the court will set a date.
Denial of Renewal of Driver's License: If you fail to appear in court as required, the court may notify the Department of Public Safety to deny the renewal of your driver's license. You will be required to pay an administrative fee of $30 prior to the renewal of your license. This fee is required by Section 706.006 of the Texas Transportation Code.
If a warrant is issued, you may avoid arrest by:
Posting Bail at the Justice Court:
You may post bail at the Justice Court in which your case is filed. Bail may be in the form of a Surety Bond or a Cash Bond. If you are posting a cash bond, you must tender cash in the form of a cashier's check or money order, payable to the Justice of the Peace, in the amount of the bail.
A magistrate must consider allowing you a personal bond.
When you have posted bail, you will be notified of the date and time you are to appear in court.
Paying the Fine at the Court:
You may pay the acceptable fine either (i) in person at the Justice Court in which your case is filed or (ii) by mailing the fine to the Justice Court. Fines may be paid by cashier's check or money order payable to the Justice of the Peace.
If you pay the fine, no further court appearance is necessary.
You will remain subject to arrest until you post bail or otherwise dispose of your case.
If you are arrested, you will be required to give bail to secure your release from custody and appear in court at a later time to answer for this charge.