703 2nd Street, Suite 404, Santa Rosa, CA 95404

What Happens If You Miss a Court Date?

Consequences of Failing to Appear in Court

If you missed your court appearance, the court may have already issued a warrant for your arrest. A judge has no way of knowing if you simply forgot to attend your court date or intend to hide as a fugitive, which is why they will assume the worst and issue a bench warrant to authorize your arrest.

A bench warrant is issued by a judge when a person violates court rules, such as by failing to appear to their court date after receiving a court order. Although a considerable number of people willfully miss their court date, there are several reasons for doing so unintentionally, such as:

  • You changed your address
  • You forgot
  • The court never sent a notice
  • You got into a car accident
  • You couldn’t get a babysitter or other childcare
  • You didn’t have transportation
  • You had a medical emergency
  • You had a family emergency

These things happen, but a court judge may assume you are trying to “run” from your court appearance by not showing up. As a result, you may be charged with failure to appear and be subject to certain legal penalties depending on the circumstances. See below:

  • If you were charged with a misdemeanor and released from custody on your own recognizance but willfully failed to appear, you may get charged for a misdemeanor.
  • If you were charged with a felony and released from custody on your own recognizance but willfully failed to appear, you may get charged for a felony punishable by $5,000 fines and/or up to 3 years in jail.
  • You may also be guilty of a felony if you willfully fail to appear in court when you are charged with or convicted of a felony and released from custody on bail. In this case, a conviction will result in $10,000 fines and/or a jail term to be set by a judge.
  • Did you get a traffic ticket? If you don’t show up in court or pay your ticket, your driver’s license may get suspended and you may be found guilty of a new crime. Not to mention, you could suffer a civil assessment of up to $300, your case may go to collections, or the court may issue a warrant for your arrest.

How does the court determine if your missed court date was willful or not?

In California, if you don’t appear in court or, at the very least, contact the court within 14 days of your scheduled date, then officials may assume you evaded the court willfully. As such, you should reach out to the court as soon as you realized you missed your appearance, so it doesn’t look like you’re evading your legal duties.

If you have a bench warrant out for your arrest, get legal help right away. Contact us at (707) 418-5352 today!