Criminal Law

2240. Failure to Appear

The defendant is charged [in Count ______] with failing to appear in court.

To prove that the defendant is guilty of this crime, the People must prove that:

1. The defendant received a citation;

2. In connection with that citation, the defendant signed a written promise to appear(in court/[or] before a person authorized to receive a deposit of bail);


3. The defendant willfully failed to appear (in court/[or] before a person authorized to receive a deposit of bail).

Someone commits an act willfully when he or she does it willingly or on purpose. It is not required that he or she intend to break the law, hurt someone else, or gain any advantage.

[It does not matter whether the defendant was found guilty of the violation of the Vehicle Code alleged in the original citation.]

Bench Notes

Instructional Duty

The court has a sua sponte duty to give this instruction defining the elements of the crime.


Elements. Veh. Code, § 40508(a).

Willfully Defined. Pen. Code, § 7, subd. 1; People v. Lara (1996) 44

Cal.App.4th 102, 107 [51 Cal.Rptr.2d 402].

Secondary Sources

4 Witkin, California Criminal Law (3d ed. 2000) Pretrial, § 50.

1 Millman, Sevilla & Tarlow, California Criminal Defense Practice, Ch. 11, Arrest, § 11.22[2], Ch. 12, Bail, § 12.04 (Matthew Bender).

(New January 2006)