What Does FTA Mean in Law Enforcement?

Written by

John Cotton


Logan Miller

What does fta mean in law enforcement

People who violate the law are often required to show up in court, as court proceedings help the legal system evaluate the severity of an offense and decide on a fair, suitable penalty.

In this situation, those who do not show up to court may be charged with an FTA. So, what does FTA mean in law enforcement? It essentially stands for “failure to appear” and can lead to other consequences like fines and jail time.

Familiarize yourself with this term and what you can do to deal with it.

What is FTA?


FTA, also known as bail jumping, stands for Failure to Appear in Court.

It means that the respondent or defendant received a summons to court but did not appear on the specified day and time.

The consequences of this behavior are as follows.

What Can Happen if I Fail to Appear in Court?


Were you aware that the penalty for FTA changes depends on the gravity of the charges in the missed proceedings?

In fact, the court can send you a warrant of arrest for failure to appear, meaning the police will bring you to court by force, put you into custody, or levy new fines you have to pay.

Any of these things can happen, and the authorities may also prevent you from bailing yourself out.

Before we get into the FTA charges, let’s get acquainted with some of the most typical offenses.

Given the wide range of crime types and classifications, it’s important to note that we may not cover them all. However, we’ll focus on the most common ones.

Classification of Crimes

1. Infractions


FTA does not have an impact on infractions, as they are minor violations unless you neglect or fail to address the consequences.

However, depending on the perpetrated offense, you can receive a warning or a ticket dictating that you need to settle a monetary sanction.

Tailgating, parking too long, speeding, jaywalking, and running red lights are a few examples of infractions.

2. Misdemeanors


DUI, DWI, public drunkenness, trespassing, stealing, simple assault and battery, and vandalism are examples of this type of offense.

When it comes to FTA, if you have been in jail, released on bail, and then failed to show up to court again, you may get a bond for failure to appear for the second time. This new bond will be more expensive than the original one, suppose you even get it.

Alternatively, you can face misdemeanor FTA charges, which will involve jail time for up to a year and/or a fine.

Remember the maximum jail time for misdemeanor charges is only a maximum of 12 months.

3. Felonies


Felonies signify the most heinous offenses and are typically very violent, though non-violent felonies like fraud and embezzlement exist.

The applicable penalties have relevant sanctions and are further classified as A through C, depending on the severity of the crime and its corresponding punishment.

Examples of felonies include kidnapping, treason, robbery, rape, murder, and child molestation.

In the context of Failure to Appear, an FTA felony occurs when you are charged with a felony but fail to appear in court for your trial.

As a consequence, the offense may escalate to a third-degree felony. Punishment can entail prison time for two to ten years, depending on the severity of the preconviction, plus additional fines.

4. Civil vs Criminal Offenses


The most obvious contrast between civil and criminal trials is that civil lawsuits involve conflicts between persons or corporations and government agencies. In contrast, criminal cases concern unlawful conduct that is harmful to society (and not necessarily a person).

Civil cases encompass disagreements between individuals or groups and may also involve disputes related to negligence or malpractice.

Examples include contract-related issues and family matters such as property damage, inheritance disputes, divorce, and child custody.

  • In civil cases, a defendant’s FTA action would likely lead to a judgment against the defendant, holding them primarily responsible for their civil violation. It may result in the imposition of a fine but no warrant.
  • In contrast, in criminal charges and proceedings, there will be an arrest warrant and other punishments (depending on whether you committed a misdemeanor or a felony).

Now that we have a better understanding and a clearer view of the types of crimes in modern federal law, here’s a summary of what might happen if you miss a court appearance.

Pretrial Offenses  Penalties And Sanctions Statute Limitation
Traffic Violations Fines. They will revoke your license 20 days after you fail to appear in court. Differs in various states (ex. New Jersey 30 days, California – no statute of limitations)
Misdemeanors Potential jail sentence of up to 12 months One or two years (state-dependent)
Felonies Law enforcement can arrest you at any point, and offenders can receive the following jail time:

➔ Up to 2 years for general felonies,

➔ 5 years for crimes punishable with up to 5 years in jail,

➔ and up to 10 years in prison if the pretrial offense can give you 15 years of incarceration.

No statute of limitations
Juvenile offenders A warrant may be issued for the immediate arrest of the minor. Depending on the severity of their violations, they may face a statute of limitations ranging from 6 months to 5 years after they turn 17.

How Can I Fix or Avoid FTA Punishment

In both federal and state jurisdictions, there are various penalties and sanctions for each type of crime.

However, there are some general outlines that apply to most of them. Let’s discuss how you can potentially alleviate the punishment for FTA.

1. Recall


Show up to court to turn yourself in and promise to pay all fines. The judge may consider recalling your FTA punishment or warrant, but this depends on the severity of your case.

If it becomes evident that you committed an honest mistake or unfortunate circumstances prevented your appearance in court, the court might be willing to reconsider and recall the warrant.

However, it’s important to note that you cannot use this procedure repeatedly. You can use it once, but if you fail to appear on the rescheduled court date, you will not have the chance to recall the warrant again.

2. Quashing


You may lift your FTA warrant, sentence, or indictment if you can demonstrate compliance and provide proof for the following reasons:

  • No one passed information to you to appear in court.
  • You have already met all the requirements and restrictions outlined in the court ruling.
  • You were unaware that someone had filed a case.
  • The court order was meant for someone else.


Though you now have a better understanding of what does FTA mean in law enforcement, it’s significant to reach out to an attorney for assistance with any concerns about this matter.

Remember that addressing your FTA warrant requires immediate action, or you may face additional penalties.

With this knowledge, you’ll also be better equipped to advise others and ensure they don’t miss their court appearances.

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