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If you've been charged with a crime, it should go without saying that showing up for your court appearances is important.

Even if the crime you are accused of committing is something as minor as a traffic offense, if you agree to appear in court and fail to show up, you may find yourself facing additional penalties. In cases where the charges are more serious, the consequences for failing to appear will likely be even more severe.

What can happen when a criminal defendant fails to appears in court? Here are a few of the potential consequences:

Ah, autumn. That time of year when leaves change, pumpkin-flavored foods proliferate, and college students become unruly. As you may have heard (and seen), Keene State College in New Hampshire was the site of injuries and arrests this weekend, when students attending various off-campus parties celebrating the annual pumpkin festival started throwing things, leading to tear gas and arrests.

College sometimes feels like a whole different universe than the rest of the world, but are the laws any different? What happens when you get arrested in college?

Here's what inquiring students need to know:

Field sobriety tests (FSTs) are a nightmare scenario for many drivers, but you may be able to legally refuse to perform one.

Refusing Breathalyzers and blood tests will likely result in the automatic suspension of your license, but the same may not be true for FSTs. There may be other practical and legal consequences for refusing to try to balance along the side of the road, but it may a driver's best legal option.

So can drivers legally refuse a field sobriety test?

The Department of Justice will no longer ask defendants who accept a plea deal to waive their rights to appeal their case based on bad advice given by their defense attorneys.

This is a bit of a departure from plea bargain tactics employed by federal prosecutors, which sometimes involve requiring an appeal waiver for any sort of plea deal. According to The Associated Press, this might not be that big a change, as only 35 of the 94 U.S. Attorneys' offices request that defendants pleading guilty give up their right to sue over ineffective counsel.

What does this change in DOJ policy mean for criminal defendants in federal court?

A man who captured video of a Honolulu police officer attempting to knock an iPhone out of his hand has settled his lawsuit with the city for $37,500.

On New Year's Day 2013, Randy Salazar Jr. was recording Honolulu police arresting a man outside an apartment complex. Video taken by Salazar's iPhone shows an officer taking a swipe at his camera as he walks past, reports Honolulu Civil Beat. According to Salazar's lawsuit, the officer shown in the video hit Salazar with a Taser, breaking a bone in his hand.

The case is just the latest legal action validating the public's general right to record police activity.

When a mentally ill person is not receiving the proper care or medication, it may be necessary to call the cops to intervene.

Individuals suffering from schizophrenia or bipolar disorders are not easily calmed down or treated by average civilians, even though they may have their best interests in mind. In many cases, calling the police may be the best option.

So how should you deal with calling the cops when someone is mentally ill?

New York City's Port Authority Bus Terminal has its own police officers, and apparently they have arrested more than 60 people this year for alleged public lewdness in the bus station's restroom.

A sign in the men's restroom notes that "Restrooms are patrolled by plain clothes officers," but some of those arrested are questioning those officers' methods. The New York Times reports that "at least a dozen" of those arrested for lewdness are now represented by the Legal Aid Society, who claim the men "were victims of aggressive and intrusive police tactics."

What are the cops up to in these lewd bathroom arrests?

An off-duty police officer shot and killed an 18-year-old man in St. Louis on Wednesday, prompting many to draw parallels between this shooting and Michael Brown's controversial death.

The killing occurred in St. Louis, the teen was black, and the off-duty officer (who fired 17 shots) was white. But as CNN reports, "the commonalities end there." The teen was reportedly armed with a 9 mm handgun, and after a scuffle with the off-duty officer, he fired three shots before the off-duty officer returned fire and killed him.

What are police saying about this new St. Louis shooting?

Can you turn around at a DUI checkpoint?

Most drivers have probably encountered a DUI checkpoint, where police randomly check drivers who pass through for possible intoxication. For drivers who may have had one or two drinks, DUI checkpoints can -- or perhaps should -- cause anxiety; the blood alcohol concentration required for a DUI charge can often be less than what many people would consider "drunk."

But what can these drivers, or other drivers who may wish to avoid contact with law enforcement, do when they see an upcoming DUI checkpoint? Is it legal to just turn around?

Police in Hammond, Indiana, are the subject of federal lawsuit alleging officers broke a window, used a Taser on a passenger, and terrifed a car full of civilians, including two young children.

On September 24, Lisa Mahone and her boyfriend Jamal Jones were on their way to visit Mahone's mother in the hospital when Hammond police officers pulled them over for a "routine seat belt violation," according to the Chicago Tribune. What followed is a matter of contention, but a federal lawsuit accuses Hammond police of using excessive force and battery.

What's the story with this Hammond traffic stop, which was caught on cell phone video?