Legal Dictionary

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FTA

FTA stands for failure to appear. It means there is a bench warrant for your arrest because you failed to appear in court at a designated time. When you are given a citation for a traffic violation you are asked to sign at the bottom of the citation. By signing the citation you are promising to appear in court at a specific designated time in the future. Failure to appear in court at that time results in a bench warrant being issued for you. There are a number of reasons why a bench warrant may be issued for failure to appear (see, California Penal Code Section 978.5). These include:

  • The defendant was ordered by the judge to personally appear in court at a specific time and place.
  • The defendant was released from custody on bail and ordered by a judge to personally appear in court at a specific time and place.
  • The defendant was released from custody on his or her own recognizance and promised to personally appear in court at a specific time and place.
  • The defendant was released from custody by a police officer by signing a citation whereby the defendant promised to appear in court at a specific time and place.
  • The defendant authorized his attorney to appear on his behalf, but the court or judge ordered the defendant to personally appear in court at a specific time and place.

FTA's are considered misdemeanors. FTA's appear in background checks for several years. The arrest warrant for the FTA will remain active on your record until it is cleared up in court. If you have an FTA warrant and you are pulled over by law enforcement for a traffic violation, you could be arrested and taken to jail immediately (whether you are guilty or not). Your driver's license can be suspended. Trying to clear an FTA warrant is complicated and frustrating and is best done with an experienced criminal defense attorney. See also Failure to Appear.