If you missed your court date for either a criminal or traffic citation, you are in failure to appear status (FTA). When this happens, it is your responsibility to clear up any bench warrant or FTA license suspension issued by the Atlanta Municipal Court. Typically, you are required to schedule an appearance in front of a judge at a failure to appear hearing.
How Do I Schedule an FTA Hearing in Atlanta Municipal Court?
Scheduling a Failure to Appear hearing is something you will have to do on your own because the court does not automatically do this for you. You will need to contact Atlanta Municipal Court at (404) 658-6940 to get on the calendar. Spaces are usually available Monday through Friday on a limited basis.
They have a great online system where you should be able to search your ticket by citation number, case number, or name. Once you find your case online, you will be able to check if you have an upcoming court date or whether it is still in FTA status.
What Fees Will I have to Pay for Failure to Appear in Atlanta Municipal Court?
The judge may require you to pay your FTA penalty before your court appearance. Typically, this is a $100.00 fee, however, the Judge may waive that fee. Whenever possible, try to have funds available to pay fines before scheduling your FTA hearing.
Should I Hire an Attorney for an FTA Case in Atlanta?
Missing traffic court and the cascade of consequences can be scary, and many people decide to hire an attorney to handle the FTA and traffic ticket. But, you can likely resolve your case without legal representation when you know the basics of how the Atlanta Municipal Court works.
First of all, if you opt to manage your case without an attorney, be patient! One common mistake people make is to assume it will only take an hour or two. But, the Municipal Court of Atlanta is exceptionally busy, and it is normal for some traffic and FTA calendars to take many hours. So keep your schedule open that day.
Another common mistake you might make is assuming that you understand what the prosecutor thinks is relevant to the ticket. Drivers commonly waste the few precious moments they have with the prosecutor explaining facts irrelevant to their case analysis. For example, many drivers believe that the court will treat them with more leniency if they have a clean driving history. However, the prosecutor is already aware of your record. So do not waste your time discussing it.
It is also wise to research the underlying charge before going to the hearing. Prosecutors typically expect you to make a final decision about the case at the FTA calendar. Ordinarily, they are not inclined to discuss your reservations regarding the lawfulness or fairness of your original citation.
If you still have questions or want to speak with an attorney experienced with the Atlanta criminal and traffic courts, schedule a free consultation with EHG Law Firm.