Regardless of the reason, missing a court appearance can be a serious infraction that should be immediately addressed. Some people are afraid of the consequences and attempt to ignore it by not showing up as directed by the court; this can result in a more significant penalty. Instead of assuming the worst, a few tips are offered by a criminal defense lawyer on what to do if you have missed an appearance in court.
Request to Appear
There are a number of reasons that require a person to appear before a judge, with or without the representation of a defense lawyer: failure to pay traffic or other fines; failure to pay child support; violation of parole; and many more. There are also different ways in which a person is notified to appear before the court, including a summons by mail and issuance of a bench or arrest warrant.
Summons – These are issued to anyone who refuse to pay traffic fines and other similar required payments. A summons usually requires the person to appear before a judge and either pay the fines immediately or make arrangements for payment in order to resolve the issue.
Bench Warrants – These type of warrants are issued for failure to appear before the court after a summons has been issued, failure to comply with a court order, or breach of parole to name a few. These documents enable law enforcement officials to take a person into custody and before a judge to address their failure to appear and to resolve the original issue. Officials do not have the right to hold someone on a bench warrant if their case cannot be heard that same day.
Penalties for Failure to Appear
Besides a summons or a bench warrant, there are other penalties that could be faced for failure to appear in court based on the offense and any previous requests to appear. These may include loss of driving privileges, increased fines, jail time, increased bond or release agreements, etc. Basically, failure to appear is viewed as its own offense in addition to the original charge being faced. If you find yourself in this type of situation, contact a defense lawyer to discuss your case and work to keep penalties to a minimum.
Prompt Action Needed
A person who realizes they have inadvertently missed a court appearance should take immediate action. Any further delay without contacting the court is viewed as willfully ignoring a court order and could result in additional penalties. The best thing to do is to contact defense lawyers to advise how to handle the situation and negotiate with the court to set a new court date. Even if an arrest warrant has been issued for failure to appear, if the warrant has not yet been served it may be possible for a defense lawyer to negotiate with the court to prevent being taken into custody for the offense.
Missing a request to appear in court, even for something as seemingly simple as a parking ticket, can lead to bigger problems if not taken seriously. Failure to appear is considered as a failure to acknowledge a court order – and is a punishable offense on its own. It is the suggestion of a defense lawyer that anyone who has missed a court date should immediately contact a local attorney to work out a resolution. Dealing with the issue as soon as possible after missing the court date is always the best choice.
Reynaldo G. Garza, III
680 E. St Charles, Suite 600
Brownsville TX 78520