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What Happens If I Miss My Court Date?

What Happens If I Miss My Court Date?
January 25, 2020 Shannon Dawes
Small business attorney in Columbus Ohio discusses debt judgement collections in Ohio.

Sometimes life can become too hectic and our schedules too crowded with appointments and obligations. The result: we may end up missing an important meeting or must choose between two appointments that are scheduled at the same time. In most cases, embarrassment and hurt feelings may result. However, when the “appointment” you miss is a court date in your criminal case, the results can be far more serious.

Your Presence is Necessary in Your Criminal Case 

Because your liberty and/or finances are at stake in a criminal case (you can be ordered to serve time in a jail or prison and/or be ordered to pay a fine), in most cases your criminal case cannot progress unless you are present in court. For this reason, and because court calendars are full and it is important to keep cases moving toward a resolution, judges are hesitant to show mercy when a criminal defendant does not appear at a scheduled court hearing.

The Power of the Courts When a Defendant Fails to Appear

While courts are powerful, they are not omnipotent and they do not have unlimited resources. The judge will not, for example, go to your home or place of employment if you do not show up to court. It is unlikely that the court will even try to call or contact you at all. Instead, the court will likely issue a warrant for your arrest. This warrant will authorize law enforcement to visit your home, place of business, or any other place you may be found in order to look for you and arrest you. You will then be held in jail until you post a bond or until you are brought before the court.

What If I Cannot Make My Court Appearance

Unless there is an emergency in your criminal case, it is rare for a court hearing to be scheduled with less than seven days’ notice. This means you should have plenty of time to rearrange your schedule and/or give your employer notice of your court date. Sometimes emergencies happen, however: children get sick, cars break down, and illnesses creep up with little notice. When this happens, you should:

  • Contact your criminal defense attorney at once! Do not wait until the day of your hearing to contact your attorney; instead, let your attorney know as soon as you think you may not be able to attend the court hearing as scheduled.
  • Be prepared to provide proof. If you claim you are too ill to attend court, ask your doctor for a note. If your car is in the shop, be prepared to show an invoice showing work was done on your car. Remember that many people claim they cannot attend court, and the judges and prosecutors are reluctant to believe you.
  • Do not be surprised if a warrant is still issued for you. Ultimately, the court may still decide to issue a warrant for your arrest if you fail to show up in court. Remain in touch with your attorney, who can best advise you on your next steps. Sometimes, turning yourself in immediately can lead to you being released on your own recognizance.

Dawes Legal, LLC is Here to Help

As your Ohio criminal defense law firm and advocate, Dawes Legal, LLC will always work diligently to represent your interests and your circumstances. We work to establish a culture of communication with our clients, as this helps us communicate about your situation to the court. Call Dawes Legal, LLC at (614) 733-9999 to learn more about our services and the representation we can provide.