What Happens if I Miss My Court Date?

If you’re supposed to show up to court and miss your date, you could face serious consequences. It’s important to comprehend the consequences of failing to show up in court in Ardmore and equally important to have a criminal defense attorney by your side. Learn more about the repercussions of ignoring a court date, and avoid making the dangerous mistake.

Are There Consequences?

First, you should know that there will be consequences. When the court issues you a date, the document isn’t a request. Instead, it’s more of a direct order. They’re telling you to show up, and failing to do so comes with consequences.  The court usually mails your notice to appear to the address on your court records. As a result, there’s really no excuse for missing the court date. It’s up to you to be certain your address is accurate, and you check your mail. Furthermore, it’s up to you to make sure you keep track of your court date.  If you tend to forget things, don’t allow your court date to slip your mind. Write down the court date in your calendar and record it on your phone as well. Additionally, set your alarm for the morning of the court date. You should take all possible measures to remind yourself of the court date.  For a simple issue, you may only need to appear once in court. An example is a traffic ticket. If you receive a traffic ticket for speeding, you probably only have one court appearance to remember. But someone who is facing criminal charges may need to make multiple appearances. You don’t get the luxury of deciding which court dates you will attend. Instead, you need to go to all of them. 

What Is Failure to Appear?

When someone misses a court date, they face the risk of being charged with failure to appear. Although this charge is usually a misdemeanor, it still affects you. Even worse, it could compound your problems. You’re much better off appearing for your court date the first time around. If your crime is a felony, your failure to appear becomes even more serious. Individuals with felonies who are facing failure to appear charges are subject to a Class D felony. Unlike a misdemeanor, these charges come with long-term consequences. Even if a court finds you guilty of your original crime, they will find you guilty of failure to appear.  In the event that you are found guilty of the initial charges, you face additional penalties for the failure to appear. There are no circumstances under which you should skip a court date.

How It Happens

Every situation is unique. However, the way in which a judge deals with failure to appear tends to start with a judge issuing a bench warrant for the arrest of the individual. The warrant allows the police to arrest the person whenever they find them. If you’re pulled over for a minor traffic violation, the police can arrest you on the spot with the bench warrant.  And you don’t need to do anything illegal to be arrested with a bench warrant. Every so often, county sheriff offices perform warrant sweeps. They take all of the active warrants and look for the people at home, work, and other inconvenient places. If the police have a bench warrant for you, there’s no telling when they will arrest you.  After the police have you in custody, you need to find a lawyer in Oklahoma City. On your own, you don’t stand a chance against a judge or jury. 

What Are the Consequences?

Ultimately, the court decides the consequences of your actions. The minor consequences can include any of the following:
  • Denying bond privileges
  • Increasing the bond
  • Losing the bond of own recognizance
  • Suspension of the driver’s license
However, as previously mentioned, the consequences can be even greater. Once a judge issues a bench warrant, you could be facing a misdemeanor or felony charge. According to state laws, you could receive a felony conviction and be fined up to $5,000 and/or imprisoned for up to two years. Once again, this is in addition to any other charges from your initial arrest.  The law does state that this only happens if there is a willful failure to appear as well as a willful failure to surrender. If you hire a lawyer and they act quickly, they may be able to remedy the situation. You can turn yourself in to prevent further criminal charges. 

What Should You Do If You Miss Court?

If it’s too late for you and you have already missed your court date, contact your attorney. They may be able to help you before a judge issues a bench warrant. Even if it’s too late for that, you should still speak with your lawyer. There are steps they can take to ask a judge to recall the warrant. Perhaps the worst thing to do is ignore the issue. Although you may be able to evade the police for a few weeks, you won’t be forgotten. At some point, the police will find you, and the consequences will be severe. You also face the embarrassment that comes with a public arrest.  Working with an attorney is the best way to minimize the consequences of missing a court date. Whether or not you have a bench warrant, you should trust your lawyer to improve the situation. In addition to helping you with your failure to appear charges, the lawyer can assist you with the initial charges as well.

Who’s Your Criminal Defense Attorney?

The best way to avoid missing a court date is to work with a reputable criminal attorney. When you have a good lawyer by your side, you get the guidance you need to make the best decisions and to appear at all of your hearings.  If you don’t already have a criminal defense attorney, call us at Bust the Cuffs. When you need a lawyer, we’re ready to fight for you and your freedom. Reach out to us now for a consultation in Ardmore.