The courts of Arizona wait on no one, in large part because they are so backed up with cases that they simply can't postpone hearings or trials without creating a problem for other cases, as well.
To deter defendants from skipping or missing their required court appearances, the state of Arizona has laws that also make it a crime to fail to appear. The penalties for failing to appear are steep and depend on the type of court appearance that you missed.
Here are the details.
Arizona's 3 Kinds of Failure to Appear
There are two statutes that deal with failing to appear for a court proceeding in Arizona: A.R.S. § 13-2506 and A.R.S. § 13-2507. However, § 13-2506 has two different kinds of failure to appear, each of which carries a different penalty.
Failure to Appear for a Felony Proceeding: § 13-2507
The most severe charge for failure to appear is in § 13-2507, which makes it a Class 5 felony for anyone who is required by law to appear in connection to any felony proceeding, and knowingly misses it.
Convictions for Class 5 felonies in Arizona, including for failure to appear, can come with between 6 and 30 months in prison for first-time offenders.
Failure to Appear for a Misdemeanor or Petty Offense Proceeding: § 13-2506
The second-most severe charge for failure to appear is at § 13-2506(A)(1). This statute makes it a Class 1 misdemeanor for anyone to knowingly miss a court appearance connected to a misdemeanor or petty offense if they were required by law to attend.
Convictions for this type of failure to appear carry up to 6 months of prison time.
Failure to Appear After Written Promise: § 13-2506
Lastly, § 13-2506(A)(2) makes it a Class 2 misdemeanor to not show up to a court proceeding, if you gave a written promise to appear under A.R.S. § 13-3903.
Class 2 misdemeanors carry a maximum sentence of 4 months in jail.
Arrest Warrants Often Issued for People Who Fail to Appear
Additionally, if you knowingly miss a required court appearance, the court that is expecting you will often issue a bench warrant for your arrest. When police apprehend you and bring you to your scheduled court date, it is far more difficult to make bail, and the allegations against you will be significantly worse with the addition of the charge for failure to appear.
Arizona Criminal Defense Attorney Shawn Hamp
Failure to appear is a tricky criminal charge because it can happen by mistake: Countless people forget about their court date, schedule it incorrectly, or are kept from attending due to a car accident or serious traffic problems. Unfortunately, the courts in Arizona don't care about excuses – when they require your attendance, they can penalize you if you don't make it, no matter the cause.