What to do if you can’t make an out-of-statecourt appearance due to a hospitalization?

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What to do if you can’t make an out-of-statecourt appearance due to a hospitalization?

My 30 year old son was involved in a car accident and has been incapacitated in a hospital in NV since November. I just got a notice from a county in FL regarding an arraignment on a charge of retail theft from last August. He says that he put a credit card in a gas pump and filled up his tank. It was raining and he quickly finished up the transaction but the pump must not have recorded it. He was pulled over by the police and spent the night in jail. He was released the next day and he thought he was cleared of charges.

Asked on February 19, 2011 under Criminal Law, Minnesota

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Your son will need to hire an attorney to represent him on this matter.  They can request an delay based on your son's medical condition.  At such time as he can travel and personally appear before the judge.  If he doesn't then the court will issue a bench warrant for "Failure to Appear" (FTA).  This will be in addition to the underlying theft charge.  So ignoring this notice will only make things worse.   While the police most probably won't actively pursue him for such a charge, any time he is stopped for a speeding ticket, or applies for a driver's license, or must undergo a criminal background check for  employment, etc. this will all turn up.  At that point he will be arrested and taken into custody.

Again, contact an attorney that practices in the court that issued the warrant.  They can utilize their local contacts to negotiate to your son's best advantage with the prosecutor, or advocate on his behalf before the judge.  There is always a defense that can be made that can lead to having a charge dismissed/reduced, or obtaining an acquittal at trial.  Your son may also be eligible for an alternative sentencing program if this is his first offense.  Bottom line, he is only 30 and doesn't need a criminal record following him for the rest of his life.


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