Strategic Defense
From A Former Prosecutor

What happens if you skip a court date?

On Behalf of | May 9, 2024 | Criminal Defense

When someone receives a summons to appear in court, it is not just a request. Rather, it is a legal obligation.

Failing to appear can lead to numerous serious consequences that affect a person’s future. Anyone with a date at the courthouse must understand these potential repercussions, whether the summons is for a minor violation or a major criminal case.

Warrants for arrest

The most immediate result of a failure to appear is that the judge may issue an arrest warrant. Once put forth, it remains active until law enforcement arrests the person, the target of the warrant voluntarily shows up or a judge dismisses it. An arrest can happen when one least expects it, including during the most embarrassing scenarios imaginable.

Additional charges

Not appearing can result in new criminal charges. The person’s absence might lead to a charge of “failure to appear,” a separate criminal offense.

Fines and penalties

Courts can impose fines and other penalties for failing to appear. These are in addition to any associated with the original charge. Such financial damages can be burdensome, especially if the original matter involves paying restitution.

Impact on bail and future cases

If someone fails to appear in court after posting bail, the court will likely forfeit the bail money. This means any cash posted as security for release from custody is lost. Additionally, not appearing can negatively affect how the court views the person in current and future legal proceedings.

Long-term troubles

A history of failure to appear in court can hurt a person’s credibility in the courtroom. It may also affect personal and professional relationships that impact future job opportunities, especially in roles that require strict background checks.

The upshot of not appearing in court can be severe. Beyond complicating the original legal issue, it can add new ones, impacting the individual’s life in unwelcome ways. Anyone receiving a court summons should treat it with utmost seriousness.