Tiring of the number of individuals recently skipping court appearances, 15th Judicial District Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Tyler Barham has taken to filing an additional felony charge for failure to appear.
“Technically when someone fails to appear in court for a felony case, it constitutes a separate offense,” said Barham.
He adds the charge is similar to one in a district court setting in which an accused fails to appear, a separate offense can then be charged.
“We don’t file them very often (in criminal court),” Barham said. “We’ve always been able to try to use that when someone FTAs and they’re in jail, let’s (move forward) on (the original case) and not worry about the FTA, but I’m getting tired of people skipping out on court.”
Barham said the separate offense charges are not filed widespread across the 15th Judicial District, which includes Logan, Scott, Yell, and Conway counties, with the most usually occurring in Conway County.
Defendants who failure to appear in an obvious attempt to delay the case will be the most likely to incur the additional charge, Barham said.
Regardless of the charge for which the defendant failed to appear, the additional charge is a Class C felony, which could be more severe than if they had been charged with a Class D felony.
In those cases plea agreements could seek additional time on sentences Barham said.
“We’re tired of seeing people skip court to avoid punishment,” Barham said.
The pair who were charged with additional felony counted were in attendance during Friday’s proceedings. Additionally, while one did arrive late, four others were not present when their case was called.