I Missed My Court Date, What Should I Do?
If you have missed a court date for a criminal matter, you should consult with an attorney as soon as possible to correct the situation. Aside from the fact that missing court may have a negative impact on the outcome of your case, you may already be wanted. This could be true even if you only appeared for a traffic ticket!
While both misdemeanors and felonies are crimes, the maximum possible jail time for a misdemeanor is 12 months. Simple assault, petty theft, possession of less than one ounce of marijuana, and driving under the influence (DUI) of drugs or alcohol are all misdemeanors. Murder, rape, arson, kidnapping, aggravated assault, and the sale of illegal drugs are all common felonies. Repeated DUIs may also be regarded as a felony which, in turn, will result in a much harsher punishment. A felony can result in a prison sentence of more than 12 months. Fines for felonies are also much higher than for misdemeanors.
What Happens When You Miss Your Court Date
If you fail to appear in court, the judge will record your absence as a failure to appear (FTA) and may issue a bench warrant against you. This allows law enforcement to find and arrest you. This can be done at home, at work, or on campus if you are a college student. It is therefore critical to act quickly if you realize you have missed your court date.
Failure to Appear (FTA)
If you are arrested for an FTA, you will be taken to jail and held there until you appear in front of a judge. If the judge agrees to release you, you may be released on your own recognizances or on bail. This is determined by the gravity of the original criminal charge for which you failed to appear in court. If bail was previously posted, it may have to be forfeited. In some cases, contempt of court charges may be filed.
A date will be set to hear the FTA charge in any misdemeanor or felony case. This is a serious charge, and you should consult with a criminal defense attorney to discuss the implications and any possible defenses you may have. If you received an FTA for a traffic offense, the court will notify the Department of Driver Services (DDS) and your driver’s license will be suspended. If you are caught driving with a suspended license, you will be arrested and taken to jail immediately. Driving on a suspended license can result in two days in jail, a $500 fine, and an extended suspension of the license. Remember, this is a new charge on top of the original charge for which you skipped court.
What to Do if You Miss Your Court Date
If you already have an attorney, make contact with him or her right away. Depending on the offense, he or she may be able to easily resolve your FTA and reinstate your driver’s license. When an arrest for FTA is made, the situation becomes more complicated and costly.