If you are arrested and charged with certain crimes (like drunk driving, theft or simple assault), the court may grant you bail so you can stay home while awaiting the outcome of your case. However, it is important to understand that bail doesn’t mean that you are free from conditions. You have to appear in court when you are required to do so. But what happens if you miss court?
Missing your court date is a serious violation – and the consequences can be severe. Some of these may include the revocation of your bail, additional charges, loss of your bail money and issuance of a bench warrant.
What can happen if you miss court?
If you are not present in court when the judge calls your name, a failure to appear (FTA) can be issued against you. What happens next will depend on what you were originally charged with and if you have a prior history of jumping bail. But what if you have valid reasons for missing court?
Subject to the circumstances of your case, here are some of the defenses you may cite if you miss court:
- You did not receive any notice to appear – once you are released on bail, the court clerk has a duty to notify you when your case is coming up for mention or trial and whether you must be present in person. If they do not notify you about your court date, there is no way you can know when you are expected in court. If this is what happened, then you may cite the lack of notification as a defense.
- You had a last-minute emergency – Sometimes, a genuine emergency can happen when you are expected to appear in court. An example of this would be a debilitating medical emergency that requires hospital admission or the death of a household member like a spouse or a child. In these cases, the court may acknowledge your reason for missing court.
If you are out on bail, missing a court date can work against you. Unfortunately, things happen. If you have a valid reason for missing court then there may be defense options open to you.