No matter which side of the law you are facing, having to go to court is always an important moment in your life. As a result, showing up should be your top priority. Unfortunately, life has a habit of getting in the way. Whether you’ve had a medical emergency or simply forgotten about it, there are a lot of situations where you might miss your court date.
However, doing so can have severe consequences. That’s why you need to act quickly and with as much information as possible. But what are these negative consequences, and can you reschedule a court date if you miss it?
What Happens If You Miss Your Court Date?
It goes without saying that a missed court date shouldn’t be taken lightly. Although laws differ from state to state, failing to appear in court is a crime in most of them. That’s why, if you know that you cannot make it to the hearing due to private reasons, you should inform the court immediately.
Generally speaking, missing your court date means facing some serious consequences, such as a bench warrant, potential changes to your bond, and even additional charges.
If someone misses their hearing, the judge will issue a bench warrant. That means the police officers can arrest and keep the fugitive in jail until they’ve resolved the missed court date. Bench warrants are typically issued for missed court dates, so it is unlikely that you will receive one for any other reason.
As long as law enforcement has a bench warrant for you, they can arrest you at any time. For example, if a police officer pulls you over for a routine check and then runs your license, they might find out about your warrant and arrest you.
It’s important to note that a warrant can show up on your background check when you apply for a job. It can also make you ineligible for financial aid and even strip you of your driving privileges.
After you miss a court date, there’s a good chance that you’ll have to pay a higher bond. In fact, you might have to forfeit the money you already paid to post your bond and get out of jail in the first place. In some rare cases, the judge could dismiss your bond entirely. As a result, you will be arrested until the court can hear your case.
Depending on your local regulations, failure to appear in court could result in charges as well as fees and fines. For example, in Florida, a failure to appear charge is a first-degree misdemeanor.
But sometimes, it can turn into a third-degree felony if the charge you were initially trialed for was a felony. However, even if you get acquitted of your initial charges, the judge can still charge you for failure to appear, which can result in jail time.
Valid Excuses for Missing Your Court Date
Although you should never miss a court date, there are a couple of circumstances that can prevent you from showing up:
• A medical emergency.
• Never receiving a notice from the court due to a technical error or change of address.
• Being stuck in a traffic jam.
• Failure to get childcare on time.
Keep in mind that no matter the reason for your absence, it is your responsibility to clear the issue.
How to Reschedule a Court Date If You Miss It
Fortunately, if you act fast, you might be able to reschedule the court date. First, you’ll need to talk with your attorney or legal representative. They can communicate with the court and attempt to rectify the situation. If the court accepts the rescheduling, they may even drop the additional charges and bench warrant.
However, if you are not represented in court by an attorney, you’ll need to contact the clerk of court’s office of the county in which you were charged. They should explain the local procedures and what steps you need to take in order to reschedule the court date.