You did not show up for your scheduled trial in Manhattan Criminal Court, a court date where your criminal defense attorney was to file motions in Brooklyn Supreme Court, or a date to discuss a deal in White Plains City Court. Not only do you run the risk of a bench warrant being issued for your immediate arrest, you may also ultimately face an additional charge of Bail Jumping.
Punishable by up to a year in jail as a misdemeanor and up to seven years as a felony, Bail Jumping occurs when you have been released from custody or you are allowed to remain at liberty and you fail to return to court on the return date or voluntarily within thirty days thereafter.
Unfortunately, this New York criminal offense is pretty straight forward…the judge tells you to return on a particular date, you fail to do so within thirty days and now you face an additional charge. If you find yourself in this situation you will need an experienced New York criminal defense attorney to assist you in working yourself out of your predicament.
It is important to note that there may be mitigating reasons as to why you did not return and a defense to your actions. However, the law is clear in that the prosecution does not have to prove that you intentionally did not return to court.See People v. Eifell. In other words, if you fail to appear during the thirty days after your court date, it does not matter under the law that you did so because you forgot, you were sick or you intentionally stayed away. Moreover, if during the time you failed to return to court the initial case against you was dismissed, the prosecution can still charge you with Bail Jumping. See Eifell.
Fortunately, there is a statute of limitations that the prosecution must adhere to when charging Bail Jumping. If you are charged with a misdemeanor, the prosecution can only bring a Bail Jumping charge within two years after the initial thirty days and five years after the initial thirty days if you were charged with a felony. See CPL 30.10(2).
Regardless of the facts surrounding your case, if you find yourself in a predicament where you have failed to return to court, a bench warrant was issued for your arrest, or you are facing a charge of Bail Jumping in New York City or Westchester County, you owe it to yourself to retain a New York criminal defense attorney who knows how the process works, understands the crimes and is ready to advocate for your rights, liberty and integrity.