What Happens if I Miss a Criminal Court Date?
Court dates are set for a reason and if you miss one for a minor offense, such as a traffic infraction, you likely will not face any consequences. However, if you miss a criminal court date, the matter becomes much more serious. Judges, as well as all other officers of the court, expect you to appear to hear the charges against you, argue your case, or to resolve another matter related to the criminal charges against you. Failing to appear for any criminal court date has very serious consequences, and it is important to know what those are, and what to do if you miss yours.
Consequences for Missing a Court Date
Emergency situations, such as if you became injured in an accident and had to visit the emergency room for a broken leg, are often considered valid reasons for missing a court date. Even in these instances though, you must still notify the court prior to your hearing to let them know about the situation and explain that it will cause you to miss the hearing. Alternatively, you can also send your attorney to the hearing on your behalf. It is important that you document the reason for missing your hearing. In the previous example, medical documents could show that you were actually at the hospital at the time and on the date you said.
If you completely miss your court hearing and do not send someone on your behalf or notify the court, the judge will issue a bench warrant. Bench warrants are a warrant for your arrest and if one is issued against you, it means you can face the possibility of arrest any time you have an interaction with law enforcement. This means that if you are stopped for a speeding ticket, there is a good chance that you will go to jail.
What to Do if You Miss Your Court Date
If a bench warrant is issued against you, it is important that you try to remedy the situation as quickly as possible and that you do not hide from law enforcement or anyone else. The steps to take after missing a court date include:
- Contact your lawyer: Your lawyer will provide you with the best advice about how to handle the situation so you do not face charges that are much more serious.
- Contact the court: Contacting the court will show the judge that you are not trying to run from the situation, skip out on bail, or avoid your charges.
- Ask if you can reschedule: If you are willing to reappear in court on another date and actually appear at that time, the judge may lift the bench warrant.
The most important thing to do after missing a court date is to remain willing to cooperate with the court. This will show that you take responsibility for your failure to appear, and a judge may go easier on you.
Our Florida Criminal Defense Lawyers can Help with Your Charges
If you have been charged with a crime, our Port St. Lucie criminal lawyers at Eighmie Law Firm, P.A. are here to help. We will always inform you of your court date, appear with you to effectively argue your case, and give you the best chance of beating the charges. Call us today at (772) 905-8692 to schedule a consultation with one of our skilled attorneys.