A Former Prosecutor Defending Clients in Wyoming and South Dakota

What Happens If You Fail to Appear for Court?

If you were charged with a crime, even something as minor as a traffic ticket, you received a summons to appear in court. This is a legal document that commands your appearance in a specific court at a specified date and time.

If you fail to show up at your scheduled court date, the judge will issue a warrant for your arrest and you will forfeit the bond you posted.

If You Fail to Appear for Court the Judge Will Issue a Warrant for Your Arrest

If you were charged with a relatively minor offense, such as a traffic ticket, and you fail to appear for court, the judge will issue a warrant for your arrest. However, it is unlikely that the police will actively pursue the warrant. While law enforcement will not go out searching for you, this means that  if you are stopped again - even for something minor - police will know that you have warrant out for your arrest and will arrest you on the spot.

If you were charged with a more serious crime and fail to appear for court it is much more likely that the police will actively pursue the warrant. This is especially true for serious criminal offenses like assault and battery, drug crimes, and sex crimes. If you were charged with a serious crime and fail to appear for court, police will be sent out to bring you in, and the penalties you will face will be much more severe than if you had just showed up in the first place.

You Will Forfeit the Bond You Posted

If you are out on bond and fail to appear for court you will have violated your bond conditions. As a result, you will forfeit the bond you posted. You will be re-arrested at a later date and will need to post bond again, usually in a much higher amount. Also, if you fail to appear for court you may be charged with a new and separate criminal charge.

Failure to Appear for Court May Result in Additional Criminal Charges

In addition to the judge issuing a warrant for your arrest and forfeiting your bond money, you can also be charged with the new and separate crime of failure to appear for court.  

What To Do If You Missed Your Court Date

Going to court is not something most people want to do. Nonetheless, if you have been charged with a crime, it’s not something you can ignore. And if you do fail to appear for court, the consequences will be worse than they originally were.  

Failure to appear for court is often the result of a mistake. Many times, your attorney can go to the judge, explain the mistake, and the judge will withdraw the warrant.

If you already missed your court date, the best thing to do is contact your attorney and explain why you missed your court date. Mistakes happen, and if your lawyer explains to the judge why you missed your court date there is a good chance that the judge will withdraw the warrant for your arrest.

The sooner your lawyer contacts the court to fix the situation, the better chance you have that the judge will withdraw the warrant, that you will not be charged with the separate crime of failing to appear for court, and that the judge will not be unduly harsh in sentencing you.

Rescheduling Your Court Date

The best thing to do, of course, is to avoid missing your court date altogether.

Judges are people too, and they understand that sometimes life can get in the way. If you cannot make your scheduled court date because you cannot get time off of work, cannot find child-care for your children, or have a medical procedure scheduled, the court can often reschedule your court date.

In fact, in most criminal cases judges want to know what kind of work you do, and who is dependent upon you for care. While missing court because you had to work or because you couldn’t find a babysitter for your kids is not ideal, it still demonstrates that you are a responsible person.

If you are unable to make your scheduled court date, it is far better to have your attorney contact the court before your scheduled court date to have it moved, rather than to simply not appear, in which case the judge will issue a warrant for your arrest.

Courts can be flexible, within reason, and will work with you to schedule your court date for a time that works for you.

Just Criminal Law Protects Your One Shot at Justice

Regardless of the seriousness of the criminal charges against you, failure to appear for court is something to be avoided.

If you or someone you care about is facing criminal charges in Wyoming, the team of criminal defense professionals at Just Criminal Law are here to help.

Contact Christina L. Williams and and her team at Just Criminal Law by calling 307-686-6556, emailing inquiry@justcriminallaw.com, or complete our online form.

DISCLAIMER: The information contained in this article is offered for educational purposes only. This information is not offered as legal advice. A person accused of a crime should always consult with an attorney before making decisions that have legal consequences.

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