I wrote last week about the expiration of emergency orders that had temporarily halted clerks from reporting to DMV a person’s failure to appear or to pay monies owed in a Chapter 20 criminal or infraction case. When DMV receives such a report, it imposes a license revocation pursuant to G.S. 20-24.1, unless the person does one of the following before the revocation goes into effect:
- disposes of the charge;
- demonstrates that he or she is not the person charged with the offense;
- pays the penalty, fine, or costs ordered by the court; or
- demonstrates to the court that his failure to pay the penalty, fine, or costs was not willful and that he is making a good faith effort to pay or that the penalty, fine, or costs should be remitted.
Someone asked me recently about these sanctions for nonappearance and nonpayment — or incentives for appearance and payment — depending upon one’s perspective. How many revocations are imposed for failures to appear and failures to pay? Do other states have similar license revocation schemes? What other ways exist to incentivize appearance and payment? Continue reading →
Among the Chief Justice’s early emergency directives and orders to address court operations in light of the COVID-19 outbreak were extensions for the time for paying monies owed in criminal cases. Those directives, which extended the time for doing certain acts in criminal cases and directed clerks to delay the entry of reports of failures to comply, were extended and modified in subsequent orders. The upshot was that defendants ordered to pay sums that would have resulted in entry of a “failure to comply” and the assessment of additional costs (and, in Chapter 20 cases, a report to DMV that would trigger a license revocation) had until July 31, 2020 to pay monies owed without incurring those consequences. That date passed last Friday, so clerks now are entering failures to comply, assessing the $50 in costs and reporting the entry to DMV in Chapter 20 cases.
Continue reading →
Failures to appear in court (FTAs) are expensive and inconvenient. There is wasted preparation and court time, along with cost and inconvenience for witnesses, jurors, defense lawyers, prosecutors and victims. The defendant may be subject to arrest and possibly pretrial incarceration. Additionally, when an order for arrest issues after a FTA, law enforcement officers are tasked with taking the defendant into custody. And the arrest requires additional court time, both for the required initial appearance before a magistrate and any subsequent bond review proceedings. Continue reading →
I’ve had several questions recently about how to handle cases in which the defendant was charged with DWI, failed to appear, remained absent for several years, then reappeared. Often, the arresting officer has retired, moved, or can’t remember the case well enough to testify. The defendant wants the case reinstated and wants to plead not guilty, hoping that the state will be forced to dismiss. The state isn’t able to proceed on the DWI but doesn’t want the defendant to benefit from his failure to appear.
The most common issues that arise in this situation include whether the state is required to reinstate the case, whether the state may attempt to negotiate a plea without disclosing the officer’s unavailability, and whether the state may charge the defendant with failure to appear. I answer those questions in this paper. Although this situation seems to arise most often with DWIs, and there are some DWI-specific aspects to the paper, much of it is relevant to any case in which a defendant disappears, and then reappears.
I should add that the paper is much better as a result of input from several of my colleagues. And of course, I welcome feedback, via email or blog comments, from readers who have an opinion about the issues addressed in the paper.