If you are facing criminal charges then it’s highly likely that you’ll have to attend a number of court hearings. When pleading not guilty, the most important of these will be the trial date.
What happens if you cannot make it on a certain day? Will the court show leniency or could you face further penalties? The answer largely depends on the specific circumstances of your absence.
The penalties can be serious
If you miss a court date then it’s likely that the court will grant a bench warrant for your arrest. You’ll have 30 days to respond before facing charges of skipping bail. If you have legitimate reasons for missing court, such as a serious illness or accident, then you may be granted some leniency.
A failure to attend a hearing related to a misdemeanor could see you face penalties of up to one year in jail.
They’re even worse for federal cases
Federal crimes typically carry more severe penalties. As a result, if you miss a court date when charged with a federal offense, then federal legislation will apply. If you miss court for a hearing that involves allegations of an offense carrying a potential penalty of 15 years or more imprisonment, you could face up to 10 years in jail.
If you have unintentionally missed a court date then it’s important to act as quickly as possible. Seeking legal guidance on the matter could help you to argue your case and show that it was not possible for you to attend. Remember, allegations must be proven against you and you are innocent until proven guilty.