If you failed to show up for a court appearance for a traffic violation, failed to pay a fine or have violated probation, chances are you will find out the hard way just what a capias warrant is. Sometimes referred to as a bench warrant, capias comes from the Latin “to seize.” It is issued by a judge and allows the police to arrest you to ensure that you will comply with an order to show up to court. Furthermore, it may even allow law enforcement to show up at your home or place of business to make an arrest.
The most common reason for a capias warrant is for failure to appear, meaning you ignored a Notice to Appear and/or did not show up for court as ordered—even if you missed or skipped just one scheduled court appearance. Similarly, a capias pro fine warrant is issued if you failed to live up to an agreed payment plan with the court.
Jail time and fines
The capias warrant mirrors the offense for which you were originally charged: If you were charged with, for instance, a misdemeanor for minor drug possession, then the capias warrant for failure to appear is a misdemeanor. If you were charged with (again, for example) felony aggravated assault, then the capias warrant for failure to appear is also a felony. Penalties for failure to appear include:
- For an original charge of a Class C misdemeanor, a fine of up to $500
- An original charge of a Class B misdemeanor becomes a Class A misdemeanor, with a punishment of up to one year in jail
- For an original charge of a Class A misdemeanor, up to one year in jail
- For a felony charge, a Third-Degree Felony punishment of two to ten years in a state prison
Failure to appear can cause bail to be imposed if you were previously released on recognizance. If you originally posted bail, your bail may be forfeited and collateral, such as your car or house, can legally be seized.
What to do if a capias warrant has been issued against you
It is likely in your best interest to get legal representation immediately. Turn yourself in on the capias: it is a far better choice than waiting for the police to pull you over or knock on your door. It also gives you a chance to explain why you missed your court appearance, especially if you have a legitimate reason. Make sure you are upfront and honest with your criminal defense attorney. By giving them all the information, they are better able to get you a positive outcome in a failure to appear situation.
Contact Texas criminal defense attorney Andrew Williams to get the help you need
At the Kingwood Law Office of Andrew Williams, we have provided solid legal counsel and smart strategies for clients throughout the Harris County area for more than two decades. To schedule a free consultation to discuss your matter, please call us at 281-358-9111 or contact us online.