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Failure to Appear / Bail Jumping

Houston Failure to Appear Lawyer

The Failure to Appear in court for a required court date in a criminal case is often called “bail jumping.” Bail jumping is a separate criminal offense under Texas Penal Code § 38.10. To support a conviction for this offense, the evidence must prove that the defendant, who was released from custody on condition that he or she subsequently appear, intentionally or knowingly failed to appear, in accordance with the terms of her release.

Failure to appear is a misdemeanor, but it is enhanced to a third-degree felony if the offense for which the defendant’s appearance was required was a felony. Id. § 38.10(f).

Houston Failure to Appear Lawyer

If you missed a court date or are accused of “bail jumping,” contact an experienced criminal defense attorney. Matt Horak represents clients charged with bail jumping and the failure to appear in court throughout the greater Houston area including Harris County and in The Woodlands in Montgomery County, Texas.

Call Horak Law today at (713) 225-8000 in you are in Houston, Spring, Pasadena, Baytown, Tomball or anywhere in Harris or Montgomery Counties.

Bail Jumping Issues in Harris County

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Bail Jumping Under Texas Section 38.10

Texas Penal Code Ann. 38.10(a) provides: “A person lawfully released from custody, with or without bail, on condition that he subsequently appear commits an offense if he intentionally or knowingly fails to appear in accordance with the terms of his release.”

The elements of the offense of bail jumping are as follows:

  1. a person;
  2. released from custody;
  3. conditioned upon appearing again;
  4. intentionally or knowingly;
  5. fails to appear in accordance with the terms of his release.“

See Yuncevich v. State, 626 S.W.2d 784, 785 (Tex. Crim. App. 1982).

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Statute of Limitations for Bail Jumping

The statute of limitations for bail jumping is three years. See Tex.Code Crim. Proc. Ann. art. 12.01(7). The courts have held that the statutes of limitations should be “liberally interpreted in favor of repose” as it is intended to:

limit exposure to criminal prosecution to a certain fixed period of time following the occurrence of those acts the legislature has decided to punish by criminal sanctions. Such a limitation is designed to protect individuals from having to defend themselves against charges when the basic facts may have become obscured by the passage of time and to minimize the danger of official punishment because of acts in the far-distant past. Such a time limit may also have the salutary effect of encouraging law enforcement officials promptly to investigate suspected criminal activity.

See State v. Ojiaku, 05-13-00840-CR, 2013 WL 6801041 (Tex. App. Dec. 23, 2013), petition for discretionary review refused (Apr. 9, 2014) (citing Toussie v. United States, 397 U.S. 112, 114–15, 90 S.Ct. 858, 25 L.Ed.2d 156 (1970)).

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Defenses to a Failure to Appear

In many of these cases, the person accused of failing to appear will show that they did not receive notice of the court date.

The courts have held that proof that the accused was free under an instanter bond is prima facie proof of notice to appear. See Solomon v. State, 999 S.W.2d 35, 37 (Tex.App.-Houston [14th Dist.] 1999, no pet.). In these cases, the fact that the person is on bond is enough by itself to satisfy the prosecutor’s burden of proving that appellant intentionally and knowingly failed to appear in accordance with the terms of the release unless appellant can establish evidence to the contrary. See id.

If the person accused of failure to appear shows that he or she did not have notice, then the prosecutor for the State of Texas must produce further evidence sufficient to justify a rational factfinder in finding that appellant had actual notice, or engaged in a course of conduct designed to avoid receiving notice. See Etchison v. State, 880 S.W.2d 191, 192 (Tex.App.-Texarkana 1994, no pet.).

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Felony Bail Jumping Charges

The third degree felony of bail jumping and failure to appear occurs when a person:

  1. is lawfully released from custody with or without bail;
  2. on a felony charge;
  3. on the condition that he subsequently appear in court on that charge; and
  4. he or she intentionally and knowingly; and
  5. fails to appear in court in accordance with the terms of his release.

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Finding an Attorney for a Failure to Appear

If you failed to appear in court then the court may issue a no bond warrant for your arrest. Additionally, a separate criminal charged can be brought, especially if the pending charges are felony charges. If your failure to appear was a mistake or inadvertent, then contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer in Houston, TX.

Matt Horak can help you mount an aggressive defense to fight the underlying criminal charges and new allegations of failure to appear or bail jumping. Call Horak Law today at (713) 225-8000 to discuss the case. Matt Horak represents clients on these serious felony and misdemeanor charges throughout Houston in Harris County and in The Woodlands in Montgomery County, Texas.

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  • Texas Board of Legal Specialization | Criminal Law
  • National College for DUI Defense
  • National Association of Criminal Defense Laywers
  • Harris County Criminal Lawyers Association
  • Matt Horak has earned recognition for community leadership by Lawyer Legion