What You Need to Know about Failure to Appear in Court

If you were arrested for a crime and released on bond, you are obliged to attend every court date. Failure to appear in court, even by mistake, is a very serious offense and will complicate your legal problems. In this situation, you must contact your Greenville criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible and let them know that you’ve missed the court date.

Let us explain why this is such a serious matter and what penalties you may face for failure to appear.

What Happens If You Fail to Appear in Court in South Carolina?

If you are released on bond, it is your responsibility to make sure that you appear in court for each hearing. Failure to do so represents a separate criminal offense – failure to appear in court.

Even if the prosecutor does not add this offense to your charges, they will definitely seek a bench warrant for your arrest. Also, the prosecution may also petition the judge to revoke your bond. This means that you will not be able to recover the amount of money representing bail.

Also, if a bench warrant was issued on your name, it will appear on the National Crime Information Center (NCIC). Any police officer who stops you for any reason and checks your information will see the warrant and take you into custody.

Steps to Take If You Cannot Attend a Court Session

Despite your best intentions, unexpected situations occur and you realize that you will not be able to attend a court date. In this case, call your criminal defense attorney immediately and let them know.

The lawyer may be able to excuse your absence and petition the court to reschedule the hearing. However, you will have to provide the attorney with a valid reason for your absence, such as:

  • Confirmation that you are in hospital
  • A doctor’s note stating that you have COVID-19
  • You had to rush your child to the ER
  • Death of a family member
  • Police report indicating that you were involved in a traffic accident

What to Do If You Already Missed a Court Date

If you realize that you have already missed a court date, once again talk to your Greenville criminal defense lawyer immediately. You should assume that a bench warrant was already issued. The attorney may check for it. You may also call the sheriff’s office, but they may not give you the information, because they don’t want you to flee when the deputies arrive at your home to perform the arrest.

missing a court date may lead to your arrest

The best decision is to turn yourself in – but not before discussing with your attorney. The legal counsel will explain what to say and what to refrain from saying after you are taken into custody. Ideally, the attorney may accompany you when you turn yourself in to observe the procedure.

Potential Penalties for Failure to Appear in Court

Failure to appear in court is a serious offense, which can have many negative implications. The most common penalties are:

  • A bench warrant for the arrest, usually issued on the same day when you failed to appear
  • If you are arrested, you will remain in jail until the warrant is lifted
  • The prosecution may seek the revocation of your bond – which means that you will remain in jail until the end of your criminal case
  • The judge may hold you in contempt of court – a criminal offense punishable by fines and jail time
  • You could be charged with the separate criminal offense of failure to appear

Useful Tips to Avoid Missing a Court Date

Some people have such busy lives that they may miss even important events, such as a court date. However, there are ways to avoid this problem. Here are some ideas:

  • Add reminders for the court date on your laptop and mobile phone
  • Ask family members and friends to keep track of the court dates and remind you of them the day before the hearing
  • Make sure your criminal defense lawyer has all the paperwork related to your case, including notices of court dates
  • Make sure your attorney can reach you whenever it is necessary
  • Appear before the court no matter what – with the exception of major emergencies

Consult with a Skilled Greenville Criminal Defense Lawyer!

Missing a court date may result in supplementary criminal charges and having to stay in jail until your initial case is closed. It is extremely important to stay in touch with your Greenville criminal defense lawyer and let them know if an unexpected emergency prevents you from attending a hearing.

If you have already missed a court date, call us to schedule a free case evaluation and understand your legal options: 864-777-4615!

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