Failure to Answer Citation, Appear in Court, or Comply With an Order or Judgment

MCL 257.321a(1) states:

Many individuals do not know this, but when someone fails to pay a traffic ticket or fail to appear in court or comply with a court order or judgment specific matters their Michigan Driver’s License will be in jeopardy. The reason for this is MCL 257.321a(1), which states that

Failure to answer citation, “or a notice to appear in court for a violation reportable to the secretary of state under MCL 257.732 or a local ordinance substantially corresponding to a violation of a law of this state reportable to the secretary of state under MCL 257.732, or for any matter pending, or who fails to comply with an order or judgment of the court, including, but not limited to, paying all fines, costs, fees, and assessments, is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment for not more than 93 days or a fine of not more than $100.00, or both. A violation of this subsection or failure to answer a citation or notice to appear for a violation of section 33b(1) of former 1933 (Ex Sess) PA 8, section 703(1) of the Michigan liquor control code of 1998, 1998 PA 58, MCL 436.1703, or a local ordinance substantially corresponding to either of those sections shall not be considered a violation for any purpose under [MCL 257.320a].”

Elements of the Offense

This statute establishes one misdemeanor offense that can be committed two ways:

(1) Defendant failed to answer a citation or notice to appear for an offense reportable to the Secretary of State under MCL 257.732, or for any matter pending; or

(2) Defendant failed to comply with an order or judgment of the court, including but not limited to paying all fines, costs, fees, and assessments.

These offenses are commonly referred to as failure to answer citation (or appear) in court (FAC) and failure to comply with judgment (FCJ).

Criminal Penalties

MCL 257.321a(1) provides for:
imprisonment for not more than 93 days; or fine of not more than $100.00; or
both.

Licensing Sanctions

In addition to misdemeanor penalties, license suspension can result from a person’s failure to answer a citation or notice to appear in court or failure to comply with a judgment. Under MCL 257.321a(2)–(4), the court is required to notify the person that license suspension may result from his or her inaction. If the person does not appear or comply with the court’s order or judgment within a stated time after receiving notice from the court, the court must report this failure to the Secretary of State. Upon receipt of the report from the court, the Secretary of State is to immediately suspend the person’s license. The time requirements contained in the court’s notices differ depending upon the charges brought against the person.

MCL 257.321a(2)

In cases involving offenses other than certain drunk driving and alcohol‐related crimes,17 the notice from the court must be mailed to the person’s last known address at least 28 days after the person fails to appear or comply with an order or judgment. The notice shall state that the person’s license will be suspended if he or she fails to appear or to comply with the court’s order or judgment within 14 days of issuance of the notice. If the person fails to comply with this notice, the court must notify the Secretary of State within 14 days. The Secretary of State will then immediately suspend the person’s license and notify the person by regular mail sent to the person’s last known address. MCL 257.321a(2).

MCL 257.321a(5) requires that a license suspension imposed under §321a(2) shall remain in effect until both of the following occur:

The court informs the Secretary of State that the defendant has appeared before the court and all matters relating to the violation are resolved; and

The defendant has paid to the court a $45.00 driver’s license clearance fee for each failure to appear or failure to comply with a court order.

In cases involving parking violations, the court may give the defendant notice and ten days to appear if the defendant fails to answer two or more handicap parking violation notices or citations, or six or more parking violation notices or citations. If the defendant fails to appear or comply within ten days, the Secretary of State shall not issue or renew a driver’s license to the defendant until the defendant resolves all outstanding matters and pays to the court a $45.00 driver’s license clearance fee. MCL 257.321a(7)–(8).

The last line of MCL 257.321a(1) says, “A violation of this subsection shall not be considered a violation for any purpose under section 320a.” Therefore, no points will be assessed on defendant’s driving record.

Issues

When the defendant has appeared before the court, and all matters relating to the violation or to the noncompliance are resolved, and the defendant has paid to the court the $45.00 driver’s license clearance fee, the court shall give to the defendant a copy of the information being sent to the Secretary of State. Upon showing that copy, a person shall not be arrested or issued a citation for driving on a suspended license on the basis of any matter resolved, even if the information sent to the Secretary of State has not been received or recorded. MCL 257.321a(10).

Whenever you are facing a failure to answer citation or to appear in court or for failing to follow a judgement or order, it is essential to obtain an attorney who understands the ramifications and obstacles that are involved with such an issue. Make sure to contact an attorney immediately whenever cited or charged with a traffic violation or misdemeanor.

About Josh Jones

Josh Jones is an experienced and professional Michigan Criminal Defense attorney presenting Metro Detroit, Genesee County, Livingston County, Lapeer County, and others throughout the State of Michigan. He is available 7-days a week and handles all felonies, misdemeanors, probation violations, traffic tickets, and drivers license restoration. Josh is only a phone call away and is here to help when you are involved with the criminal justice system.