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Maryland Failure to Appear Laws

Maryland's failure to appear laws penalize a defendant who does not present themselves in court as directed. A failure to appear charge is typically entered on the day of a missed hearing, and a charge of this kind may arise in a wide variety of criminal cases, and even for court appearances arising out of traffic citations.

When a defendant fails to appear the court issues a "bench warrant," which authorizes the police to apprehend the defendant for the purposes of bringing them to court. Although the police might show up at your home to arrest you, in most cases the warrant will simply remain on file and you will be arrested the next time you encounter the police and they run a check on your name, such as during a traffic stop. A failure to appear may also result in the forfeiture of your bail bond.

Overview of Maryland Failure to Appear Laws

Instead of waiting to be arrested it is wise to take action to have the warrant withdrawn and resume the principal case. The following chart provides some basic information about having a bench warrant lifted under Maryland failure to appear laws:


Maryland Code, Criminal Procedure, Title 5, Subtitle 2, Section 212, et. seq.

Handling a Bench Warrant

If a bench warrant is issued you shouldn't wait to be arrested. Instead, if you have a reasonable excuse for your failure to appear, you or an attorney can file a motion to recall and quash the warrant. In some situations the bond may be reinstated. Reasonable excuses generally include:

  • Your documented serious illness or injury;
  • The serious injury or illness of an immediate relative (spouse, parent, or child) under your care;
  • Your failure to receive a notice of hearing on account of an error on the part of the court;
  • Your incarceration on other charges; or
  • Accident, automotive breakdown, or other unforeseen circumstances beyond your control that prevented your appearance.

Evidence supporting your reason for failing to appear should be submitted and will significantly impact the court's opinion.

Judicial Considerations

When deciding whether to quash a bench warrant the judge will consider:

  • The nature of the charges;
  • The reason given for failure to appear;
  • The defendant's prior history of failing to appear; and
  • Whether the defendant has been properly advised of their rights.

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Related Resources:

If you would like to learn more about Maryland failure to appear laws the following links provide additional information:

Learn More About Maryland Failure to Appear Laws from a Lawyer

A charge for failure to appear is clear evidence that failing to properly respond to the demands of a court case can result in more trouble. If you've been charged with failure to appear in Maryland, it's a good idea to contact a local criminal defense lawyer who can help ensure that you don't make a bad situation worse and can be helpful when seeking to fix the issues that have already arisen.

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