Despite text message reminders, people still miss their court dates. Often, they even miss their court dates for good reason. Nevertheless, a missed court date can create additional problems.
Missing a court date for a criminal case is very serious. The judge will issue a bench warrant for your arrest. There’s a good chance you will also face additional criminal charges for the crime of bail jumping. Keep in mind that a bail jumping charge can stand even if you are acquitted of all other charges, or even if your other charges or dropped or dismissed. That means one mistake could result in a criminal record even if you and your defense lawyer do everything else right.
A bench warrant can be a huge problem no matter where you are. You can’t escape it, even if you’re out of state. If you’re outside of New York, for example, and police find you, then you could be held without bail in that state until you’re returned to New York on a “Governor’s Warrant.” That could mean sitting in jail in some other state for weeks.
Fortunately, as your criminal attorneys we can handle this issue for you. You just need to act fast: you have just 30 days after your court date to resolve this issue. Acting within the 30-day period can avoid additional criminal charges, can clear the bench warrant, and can result in little more than a rescheduled court date.
If the 30-day period lapses, then it’s usually wiser to turn yourself in, though you should always consult with your attorney before making any move at all. If you had a good reason for missing your court date it may still be possible to clear the bench warrant, so long as the reason was for circumstances beyond your control. A good example might be a hospital stay: if you were in the ER on the date you were supposed to be in court and can back up that assertion with hospital records then it may be possible to handle this misstep without much trouble.
You should never count on an excuse being “good enough.” If there is any chance you can make your court date, do so. It should be the top priority in your life until your criminal charges are resolved.