Bail Jumping and Failure to Appear

The Bail Jumping and Failure to Appear crime in the state of Texas allows criminal prosecutions for people who the state’s attorneys believe intentionally or knowingly skipped a court date without a legal reason. Learn more detailed information about the Bail Jumping and Failure to Appear offense below.

We frequently see this offense charged in municipal courts and in certain counties. Some state prosecuting attorneys do not frequently go after this offense, likely because skipping bail already usually results in a warrant and an increase in bail amount, if not an outright revocation.

Have you been charged with Bail Jumping and Failure to Appear? Call criminal lawyer Paul Saputo at (888) 239-9305 to discuss legal representation.

Bail Jumping and Failure to Appear is classified in the Texas Penal Code under Title 8 “Offenses Against Public Administration”, Chapter 38 “Obstructing Governmental Operation.”

What is the current Texas law about Bail Jumping and Failure to Appear?

The current Texas law is as follows:1

(a) 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 key words in the offense are intentionally or knowingly. This mens rea requirement means that if you miss court by accident, it is not a criminal offense.

Excuses, Defenses and Exceptions

Sub-sections 38.10(b) and (c) provide a defense to prosecution:

(b) It is a defense to prosecution under this section that the appearance was incident to community supervision, parole, or an intermittent sentence.
(c) It is a defense to prosecution under this section that the actor had a reasonable excuse for his failure to appear in accordance with the terms of his release.

Is it a crime to miss court?

It depends. In Texas, the Bail Jumping and Failure to Appear offense makes it a crime to miss court only if it is done knowingly or intentionally, as described above. Also, there are certain defenses to prosecution, including one that you had a “reasonable excuse for his failure to appear in accordance with the terms of his release” as described in the above section.

How can I be charged with Bail Jumping and Failure to Appear?

You can be charged with Bail Jumping and Failure to Appear if the state’s attorneys believe that each of the elements of 38.10(a) as described in the section above have been met.

What is the punishment for Bail Jumping and Failure to Appear?

A conviction for Bail Jumping and Failure to Appear is punished as a Class A Misdemeanor,2 with a maximum possible fine under Texas state law of up to $4,000 and jail time of up to one year, unless it falls into one of the two categories described in the next two paragraphs.

The offense is a Class C Misdemeanor,3 with a maximum possible fine under Texas state law of up to $500, if the case was only punishable by a fine in the first place. So, if you skip bail on a traffic ticket or other municipal court offense, the failure to appear is punishable only as another traffic-ticket-level offense.

The offense can also be punished as a Felony of the Third Degree, with a maximum possible fine under Texas state law of up to $10,000 and prison time of up to 10 years, if the offense that you fail to appear for is classified as a felony.4 Learn about the differences between grades of felonies and misdemeanors


Legal References:

1 Texas Penal Code §38.10.

2 Texas Penal Code §38.10(d)

3 Texas Penal Code §38.10(e)

4 Texas Penal Code §38.10(f)

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