While showing up to your court date is extremely important, sometimes things happen that make it impossible to make an appearance. If you have missed your court date, do not panic. There are things you can do to rectify the situation and not make things worse for yourself.
First, let us talk about the potential consequences you will face after your missed court date. Then, we will cover the importance of acting quickly in this situation. Finally, we will talk about how helpful a strong attorney-client relationship can be to give you the best formal legal advice, helping you avoid a bad criminal charge.
What to Do (and Not Do)
It is imperative to act quickly once you've realized you missed your court date; this situation will NOT go away on its own.
If you are proactive in dealing with your missed court date, then it is much more likely that the judge will look favorably on your case. Conversely, if you take your time about the fact that you missed your court date, the judge will be less likely to cut you any slack.
Additionally, if you act extremely quickly, you may be able to rectify the situation before the judge issues a bench warrant, which we will discuss below. Sometimes, there is a lag between your absence from the court and the actual issuance of the warrant. Acting quickly will always help you when it comes to failing to appear in court.
There are also a few things you should NOT do after missing a court appearance.
- Do not try to run away and avoid the next court date or future appearances
- Do not lie during the court hearing about why you missed your previous appearance
- Do not ignore the problem and hope the judge does not notice
Potential Consequences of Missing a Court Date
A missed court date is not usually something to take lightly. In the state of Florida, failing to appear in court is a crime. If you know ahead of time that you cannot attend the hearing because of a conflict, contact the court promptly. You may be able to reschedule the hearing to another date when you can attend.
If you do not live in Florida but received a citation while visiting the state, it is still imperative that you return to Florida and show up for court. You cannot ignore a notice to appear in any situation.
Missing your court date likely means facing some serious consequences, including the following.
Almost immediately after someone misses their court date, a judge will usually issue a bench warrant. This warrant will allow police officers to arrest you and keep you in jail until you've resolved your missed court date. This means if you missed court dates to take immediate action and contact the court.
Bench warrants are very similar to traditional arrest warrants, except that they are almost exclusively for a missed court date. It is unlikely to have a bench warrant for any other reason.
The crucial thing for you to know is that you may face arrest when you have a bench warrant out against you. If you have any encounter with law enforcement they have the power to arrest you. Even if they merely pull you over for a broken taillight, if the officer runs your license and discovers your bench warrant, you could go to jail.
It is unlikely that a police officer will come to your house or your place of employment and arrest you, especially if you had a court date for a traffic violation or minor infraction. However, this may happen in some situations. This event will usually only occur if the initial charge for which you failed to appear in court was especially severe.
Having a warrant out for your arrest can significantly impact your life. It can show up on background checks when applying for a job. It can prevent you from receiving financial aid, and it can also strip you of your driving privileges.
Changes to Your Bond
After missing a court date, you may also find yourself having to pay a higher bond. In some situations, you may have to forfeit any money you paid to post your bond to get out of jail initially.
A particularly dire consequence you could face is the revocation of your bond entirely. This punishment would force you to remain in jail until the court hears your case.
Generally, this measure is only likely to occur if the judge deems your absence from court to be willful. If the judge revokes your bond, the assumption is that there are no conditions of your release that would assure your future appearance in court.
If you miss your court date, you could get charged for a failure to appear. This charge often comes with additional fines and fees.
If you get a first-degree misdemeanor charge, you could face up to 12 months in jail and/or up-to $1000 in fines.
Even if you get acquitted of the charge that made you appear in court in the first place, the judge could still find you guilty of failure to appear, making it a severe issue. Regardless, you are likely to get worse charges and more jail time if you continue to miss your court date.
Get an Attorney to Help You
It is critical to have an attorney on your side to help you if you've missed a court date. Florida law and court procedures are complicated, so having an expert to give you legal help can prevent future problems and potentially reduce the consequences you face.
A lawyer has trained for years to present all the proper evidence for missed court date cases. They know what to present so that the judge will understand your situation and be less likely to enforce strict penalties.
If a judge is trying to hold you without bond, you can have a lawyer request a hearing. In these hearings, the attorney can argue on your behalf. They could potentially get your failure to appear charges dismissed.
Let Attorney George L. Fernandez Help You
If you have missed your court date and do not know what to do, please contact our firm. We can offer you our expert advice about what to do next.
We have the knowledge and the expertise to help you with your case and will work to procure the best possible legal outcome for your situation.
Do not let a missed court date ruin your life. Let our team help you. Fill out the contact form here to schedule a free consultation today.