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Connecticut General Statutes § 53a-173 – Failure to Appear in the Second Degree


Police Line Do Not Cross When you have a pending criminal case, you are obligated to attend all assigned court hearing dates. Under Connecticut General Statutes§ 53a-173, it is illegal to fail to appear for a criminal court hearing willfully. If the defendant fails to appear for court, it is a separate crime punishable by an additional sentence to the crime already pending.

When defendants fail to appear for court hearings, courts will sometimes send out bail commissioner letters to remind them to appear on the next date. If the accused continues to fail to appear, the court will order a re-arrest and raise the defendant's bail bond.

Elements of the Crime Which Must be Proven by The Prosecution

To prove that the accused failed to appear in the second degree under Connecticut General Statutes § 53a-173, the prosecutor must prove the following elements of the crime:

Two situations:

Situation 1
  1. The accused has a pending misdemeanor criminal case, or motor vehicle violation for which a sentence of imprisonment may be imposed;
  2. The accused is out on a bond or promise to appear;
  3. The accused willfully fails to appear for a court hearing according to the terms of his bail bond or promise to appear.
Situation 2
  1. The accused is on probation for a misdemeanor or motor vehicle violation conviction;
  2. The accused willfully fails to appear for a court hearing related to a violation of the probation.

A man is arrested for assault in the third degree (a misdemeanor) and posts a $500 bail bond. The man fails to appear for his arraignment because he made a mistake about the court dates. The court issues him a bail commissioner's letter and provides him a new court date. On his second court date, the man sleeps late and has some trouble arranging a ride to court. By the time he arrives at the court at 12:30 p.m. he discovers that the court has already called his case and ordered a re-arrest. Since the bail commissioner's letter required him to attend court at 10:00 a.m., the man could be convicted for a violation of Connecticut General Statutes § 53a-173.

A woman is arrested for shoplifting Connecticut General Statutes § 53a-125b (a misdemeanor) in Stamford and has a court date assigned for March 15, 2019. On March 1, 2019, the woman is arrested by another police agency in New York and is being held in prison in New York and fails to attend her court date in Stamford on March 15, 2019. Since the woman was being held against her will in New York state and unable to attend court in Stamford, she could not be convicted of a violation of Connecticut General Statutes § 53a-173 failure to appear in the second degree because her failure to appear was not willful.

Related Offenses
  • Connecticut General Statutes § 53a-172 – Failure to Appear in the First Degree
  • Connecticut General Statutes § 51-164r - Failure to Pay or Plead
  • Connecticut General Statutes § 14-140 - Release on Own Recognizance
Defenses to Connecticut General Statutes C.G.S. § 53a-173 – Failure to Appear in the Second Degree

The best way to defend a failure to appear charge is by contacting a Connecticut criminal defense attorney as soon as a re-arrest order enters to get a motion to vacate the re-arrest order filed. If an attorney can convince the court that good reasons exist to vacate the re-arrest, then you will get a new court hearing date, and the crime of failure to appear goes away. They say an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and this is undoubtedly one of those circumstances. As soon as a re-arrest order enters, you should get in touch with a criminal defense lawyer to explore the best alternatives to get the re-arrest vacated. The longer you wait to vacate the re-arrest, the harder it will be to get the re-arrest vacated.

If you can't get you re-arrest vacated, then the best defense to a failure to appear is to demonstrate that your failure to appear was not willful. If you were in prison, a hospital, a car accident, or had no notice of your court date, then your failure to appear would not be considered willful. Speak with an experienced Connecticut criminal defense lawyer to go over the facts of your case and determine if you have a valid defense.

If you do not have a criminal record, you may be eligible for a diversionary program for first-time offenders such as the accelerated rehabilitation program, which could lead to a dismissal of all the charges against you. The same application could be used to resolve the allegation of failure to appear and the underlying charges that brought you to court in the first place.


The penalty for a violation of Connecticut General Statutes Section § 53a-173 failure to appear in the second degree is a Class A misdemeanor for which you can face up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $2,000.

Criminal Defense for Failure to Appear in Court in the Second Degree

Courts and state's attorneys take failure to appear charges seriously. As a result, you should promptly consult with an experienced Connecticut criminal attorney if you or someone you know has been accused of failure to appear in the second degree. Stamford criminal lawyer Allan F. Friedman has over 30 years of experience fighting criminal allegations of all kinds. Attorney Friedman will work hard to fight the charges against you, have them dismissed, or significantly reduce the consequences.

For more information about defending failure to appear in the second-degree allegations in violation of C.G.S. § 53a-173, contact Stamford criminal lawyer Allan F. Friedman at The Law Offices of Allan F. Friedman to arrange your free, no-obligation, initial consultation. Our offices are located at 1100 Summer St #306, Stamford, CT 06905. Mr. Friedman can be reached 24/7 at (203) 357-5555, or you can contact us online for a prompt response.

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