Failure to Appear: What Do You Do?

Did you happen to miss your court date? If this is your situation, there are consequences that usually follow unless there is a good reason that was out of your hands. The consequences of not appearing depend on your situation so it’s always good to obtain legal advice. Consequences may include fines, an issued warrant, a separate charge from the prosecutor, or even contempt of court.

WHAT IS A BENCH WARRANT?

Let’s talk about a bench warrant and the implications of having one issued. A bench warrant is an order from a judge for a person to be arrested. Once the warrant is ordered, law enforcement agencies may or may not actively look for the person on the order. Law enforcement agencies enforce a bench warrant the same as any other warrant. If you get pulled over for any reason, they will arrest you and take you into custody. Typically, it’s not a good idea to ignore the bench warrant or run away from the problem.  Having a bench warrant can get you arrested when you come into contact with law enforcement, likely when you’re least expecting it.

FINES

Let’s discuss possible fines for not showing to your scheduled court appearance. The judge can impose a fine and the fine will be tacked on to your original charge. Additionally, if you have a posted bond, a judge could take the action of having your bond forfeited where you lose your bond. It is best to avoid a failure to appear at all costs.

PREVENTION

If you know in advance that you’re not going to be able to make your scheduled court appearance, you can take the steps to mitigate the issue and to avoid fines or jail. You can always call court administration of the county of your offense and see if they can reschedule your hearing. If you have an attorney, you can have them handle getting a court date pushed out.

GOOD FAITH REASONS TO MISS COURT

Sometimes missing court is not intentional, and you can’t help unforeseeable circumstances. Sometimes accidents happen. Some of those reasons might include hospitalization, a car accident, and inclement weather. Not all at once we hope. If you have a good faith reason where a situation like this is out of your hands, a court will reschedule without rendering a penalty.

WHAT CAN YOU DO IF YOU MISS A COURT DATE?

Call court administration and communicate with the court. In some instances, you may have to turn yourself in. Nobody wants to turn themselves in, but taking this step lets the court know you want to comply. Simply ignoring a warrant can and will get you arrested if you come in contact with law enforcement. Contacting an attorney for getting a warrant quashed is another way of handling a warrant issued because of a missed court date. If there are mitigating factors, a court can dismiss the warrant. Call the Kohlmeyer Hagen Law Firm (507-625-5000) to handle your warrant or any other legal advice you’re seeking.

Luis Moreno is a criminal defense attorney with Kohlmeyer Hagen, Law Office Chtd. His aim is to make sure his clients stay informed about the development of their cases and that they receive quality advice on which strategies are in their best interests.

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