What Happens If You Fail To Attend Court?
Failing to attend court when required can have serious legal consequences. When you are ordered to appear in court, whether for a criminal case, civil case, or any other legal matter, you should attend all scheduled hearings and proceedings as directed by the court. Here are some of the potential consequences of failing to attend court:
- Issuance of a Bench Warrant: When a defendant or any party fails to appear in court as required, the judge may issue a bench warrant for their arrest. A bench warrant authorizes law enforcement to arrest the individual and bring them before the court.
- Forfeiture of Bail: If a defendant has posted bail to secure their release from custody and fails to appear in court, the court may forfeit the bail. This means that the court keeps the bail amount, and the defendant may be subject to re-arrest.
- Revocation of Release: If the individual was released on their own recognizance (without posting bail) or under the supervision of pretrial services, their release may be revoked, and they may be remanded to custody.
- Additional Charges: Failure to appear in court may result in additional criminal charges, such as “failure to appear” or “contempt of court” charges. These charges can carry their own penalties, including fines and potential jail time.
- Loss of Legal Rights: In civil cases, failing to attend court may lead to a default judgment being entered against the non-appearing party. This means that the party who fails to appear may lose the case by default, and the court may rule in favor of the other party.
- Impacts on Future Legal Matters: A history of failing to appear in court can have a negative impact on future legal matters. Judges and courts may view such behavior unfavorably, potentially affecting bail decisions and sentencing in subsequent cases.
- Extradition: In cases involving fugitives or individuals wanted in another jurisdiction, failure to appear can lead to extradition, where the individual may be transported across state lines to face charges in the jurisdiction where they are wanted.
- Driver’s License Suspension: Some states have laws that allow for the suspension of a person’s driver’s license for failing to appear in court or failing to comply with court orders.
Failing to attend court is not a recommended course of action. If you are unable to attend a court hearing due to circumstances beyond your control, such as a medical emergency or other legitimate reason, it is essential to notify the court and seek legal advice promptly.
If you have missed a court appearance or are facing legal consequences for failure to appear, it is advisable to consult with an attorney as soon as possible to address the situation and take appropriate steps to mitigate any potential negative outcomes.