Missing Your Court Date – What Happens?

The judge will forfeit your bond (take it away) and issue a warrant for your arrest.

That’s the short answer. The long answer (or excuse that you might have) is more complicated.

You have a court date. It’s coming up, you know it’s happening, but you can’t get off of work. Or you have no one to watch the kids. You’re broke and you have no ride. There are a lot of reasons why you might miss court. And none of them are any good.

Going to your court date is the only thing you have to do that day. If you miss your court date, whether it’s for a traffic ticket, or a more serious crime, the result is the same. A warrant is issued for your arrest, and your bond is forfeited (the county takes the money you put in, and won’t give it back).

Now, this isn’t the end of the world. As your attorney, I can bring you in front of the judge, explain why you didn’t make it (usually just about any excuse will work), and ask the judge to reinstate your bond and quash (take back) the warrant for your arrest. HOWEVER! This only works once. If you blow it again, you’re going to go to jail.

WORD OF WARNING! If the judge doesn’t like you for some reason, like this is the second or third time you’ve done this, or you are sarcastic, surly, or mean to the judge, you can be shipped straight to jail even on your first missed court date. I have NEVER seen this happen, although I’m sure it has. That doesn’t mean it can’t. So don’t press your luck.

So what happens if you don’t come in front of the judge with me and vacate the bond forfeiture and quash your warrant? Well, you can come in on the next court date, which will be the last one you have. This will basically allow you to go through the same process I just described.

OR, you can completely skip your court dates from there on, have a warrant hanging over your head and a judge ready to just throw you under the bus the next time you appear.

And you WILL appear before that judge. If you are pulled over, stopped, arrested for any other reason, or have a run in with the police, you will be picked up, and taken to jail, where you will NOT get a bond, and have to go before the judge whose court date you missed before, and explain why you weren’t there. This is not the optimal way to appear before the judge, wearing the CCJ tan jumpsuit.

If you miss a court date, don’t panic. Have your lawyer “motion up” the case and appear before the judge looking sorry and all will be well. Just don’t make a habit of it.

UPDATE: Just last week I had a client who had missed a court date because he got hurt. He had visited his doctor, who told him to take time off of work, but my client DID NOT GET A LETTER from his doctor explaining that he was currently injured. I called my client because he had missed his court date and told him to arrange a date with me to bring him in, quash his warrant and reinstate his bond. He did so, but canceled, twice.

He DID come on the final date he had for court, his JBFX date, as it is known. On this date, he still had no letter from his doctor, no excuse better than “I was hurt and I couldn’t make it in earlier.” The judge, not in a good mood, lectured him from the bench, then revoked his I-Bond (which required no money down) and turned it into a D-Bond. This required my client to pay $2,000 to get out of jail. I told him this was a possibility.

Now…he gets taken straight into the holding cell in the courtroom. I had wanted to fight his case, but now, if I do, he has to put up $2,000 to get out to continue to fight it, or wait for his next court date (or two). The prosecutor gave him a good offer and my client had a really bad choice to make. He could take the deal, or pay the bond and fight the case. Or not pay the bond, lose his job, and fight the case (since he hadn’t expected, although he was warned, to have stay in jail, and he really didn’t have the $2,000).

What’s the lesson here? CALL YOUR LAWYER! GET TO COURT AS SOON AS YOU CAN AFTER YOU MISS YOUR COURT DATE!

I can only do so much, before your behavior puts you exactly where my client was…in a cell.

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