What Happens When You Miss Your Court Date?
Whether you’re scheduled to appear in court for a traffic ticket, a divorce hearing or a criminal violation, it is your obligation to appear and plead your case. Failure to appear in court is typically considered to be contempt of court and you may be subject to both criminal and financial sanctions as they are determined in your state. Depending on the nature of the court hearing, the court may choose to not actively pursue the case, issue sanctions or dismiss the charges altogether if the court finds you had a valid reason for failing to appear.
Contact Your Attorney
Whether you are aware of the fact that you have a missed court date or you learn that the court has issued a warrant for your arrest, the first thing to do is to contact your attorney. If you were arrested and required to post bail for the crime, you may also lose the money that was used for your bail. If you used the services of a bond agent, your attorney might recommend you contact them. An attorney will know how to handle the situation should there be an arrest warrant issued and can assist you on how to proceed.
In some situations, such as minor charges or traffic tickets, you may receive a notice or a summons in the mail to appear in court. Depending on the charges, you may be required to appear more than once during a criminal case, including the arraignment, pre-trial, hearing, sentencing and etc. if you fail to appear for any of the court’s required appearances, the judge can charge you with the crime of contempt of court or failure to appear. In addition to the charge, the court may also take other actions, including:
- Issuing a warrant. A bench warrant is commonly issued for failure to appear. If a bench warrant has been issued, it means law enforcement officials have been directed to take you into custody and you must appear before the court to address the reason the warrant was issued. You may be held without bond until the court schedules the hearing.
- Jail sentence and/or fines. If you miss a court hearing, a judge can impose fines and/or a jail sentence if you are found guilty of contempt of court or failure to appear.
- Suspension of driver’s license. In some situations, a judge can order that your driving privileges be suspended if you fail to appear in court. The suspension of your license will be effective at least until you appear before the court.
- Bond revocation. If you were not previously required to post a bond (released on your own recognizance), the judge may change the conditions of your release by imposing a bond. If you did post bond, the judge may increase your bail bond this time around.
If you could not legitimately make your court date, it is critical that you notify your attorney, the bail company and the judge’s administrative assistant immediately. A valid reason for not appearing in court may include a death in your immediate family or if you are experiencing serious health problems that may require hospitalization.
Contact Free at Last Bail Bonds to learn more information about the consequences of missed court hearings or to discuss the need for a bail bond.