Missing your scheduled court date is not like missing a scheduled dentist appointment. Failure to appear in court is a crime that could cost you money as well as your freedom. Fortunately, if you don’t ignore it and you take steps to fix the problem, you may be able to rectify your situation.
Once you’ve missed the court date, a judge will issue a bench warrant for you. In more severe cases, a criminal warrant will be issued and law enforcement will actively look for you, but generally, a bench warrant means that your name goes into a state database and if you are stopped for even the most minor traffic infraction, the officer who stopped you will see the warrant and arrest you on the spot.
Once arrested, you will appear at a hearing for your failure to appear in court. At that time, the bench warrant is dropped and a judge will decide whether or not to release you under the original conditions of your bail or revoke your bail and send you to jail until your trial.
If you missed your court date because there was a death in the immediate family, a serious illness befell you or you were in a car accident, you may stand a chance at release. However, if you missed it because you didn’t feel like going or it slipped your mind, you probably won’t be so lucky.
What do you do?
If you know ahead of time that you won’t be able to show up, call your lawyer or the court clerk or have a family member or close friend go for you to explain why you couldn’t be there. Again, there is no guarantee, it is entirely up to the judge whether or not to revoke bail but it shows that you were taking it seriously and weren’t merely blowing it off.
If you missed it and didn’t let anyone know, call the court clerk’s office and find out if there has been a bench warrant issued for you. Whether there is or isn’t, you should tell your lawyer or the court clerk that you want to make arrangements to turn yourself in for your hearing. The benefit of telling your lawyer is that he or she can protect you from saying anything that might incriminate yourself or affect your original offense.
If the judge revokes your bail, you will forfeit your bond, meaning you lose any money or collateral that you put down on your bond in order to be released on bail. Also, if you are arrested in the future for another crime, a judge will be less likely to allow bail because you’re a risk. You could also be fined and have your driver’s license revoked.
The simple solution to these problems is don’t miss your scheduled court dates! When you post bail, you legally agree to show up. Set reminders on your phone, have loved ones call you, check the dates, times, and locations with the court clerk ahead of time. Do everything you can to get to the courthouse on the right date and at the right time.
Your bail bondsman can help too. At Mercy Bail Bonds, we know how important it is for you to show up for court appearances and how easily it can fall between the cracks. Our caring staff will remind you along the way to make sure that you don’t miss any of your important dates. If you or a loved one has been arrested in Hernando County or Central Florida, call Mercy Bail Bonds at (727)856-7775. Our expert staff is available 24/7 to answer any questions you may have.