SB 58: Lowering Penalties for Failure to Appear
This bill passed the Senate and House unanimously.
If an individual fails to appear in court for their infraction or misdemeanor, they are guilty of a class B misdemeanor under Utah law. This charge can in many cases be harsher than the individual’s original charge.
The intent of a strict criminal charge for failure to appear was to incentivize defendants to appear at their court date. However, there is no evidence that this law has been effective in its goal.
Judges should have the discretion to review each case and the reason for failure to appear and handle it accordingly. Issuing a warrant or raising fines are both tools that courts can already utilize in case of an inexcusable failure to appear. SB 58 would still allow judges to utilize these tools.