What happens if you forget your court date?

One of the worst feelings in the world is remembering your forgot an important date. Usually the consequences aren't anything more than being embarrassed or a missed appointment charge. But when you miss your court date it can have serious consequences.

If you miss the Court date provided to you in Magistrate or Municipal Court (for example the trial date on your DUI or misdemeanor criminal ticket), the typical remedy will be for the court to try you in your absence. When your case is called for trial the police or other witnesses may offer testimony. The result of a trial in your absence can be a sentence to a fine, jail term plus a criminal record. A bench warrant may be issued for your arrest.

If you do not appear for an appearance in General Sessions Court you typically will not be tried in your absence (unless it was previously scheduled as your trial date). The Solicitor's office will request that the Court issue a bench warrant. Once a bench warrant is issued you are expected to remain in jail until your case ends through either a guilty plea or a trial. This could take weeks or even months to happen.

One other thing that will happen if you miss Court is that in addition to the possibility of the police trying to serve a bench warrant is that your bail bondsman may also be coming to look for you. If you miss Court and are not turned in within a short period of time your bondsman may become liable to the Court for the full amount of the bond. This money would have to come out of the bondsman pockets, providing a strong incentive for them to work 24/7 to try to locate you and take you into custody.

So what do you do if you realize that you forgot your court date? If you can still make it to court, but are going to be late you probably need to get there as soon as you can. If you have a lawyer you should also immediately contact their office to advise them that you are on the way.

If you have missed your appointment by a day or more your first step should be to contact your lawyer's office. At this point a bench warrant is likely to have been issued. Your lawyer can help try to negotiate the warrant being lifted, or request a hearing in front of a judge. If you do not have a lawyer now is a good time to hire one.

Categories: Criminal Defense

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