If you were arrested and released on bond or a police officer issued an appearance ticket, you are legally obligated to show up for court. The judge might issue an arrest warrant if you miss your court date. You could face new charges for the crime of failing to appear.
Regardless of the circumstances, you need legal representation from an attorney after missing a scheduled court appearance. After missing a court date, the worst thing you could do is pretend it did not happen. The longer you delay, the worse the consequences may be.
A Bridgeport failure to appear lawyer at Ruane Attorneys could help explain why you missed your scheduled date. We can work to resolve the failure to appear charge without additional penalties.
Criminal Procedures for Missing a Court Date in Bridgeport
Missing a court date is a crime. If the hearing was for a misdemeanor charge, failing to appear for it will be a Class A misdemeanor, according to Connecticut General Statutes §53a-172. If the hearing was for a felony charge, failing to appear is a Class D felony.
When the underlying charge was a misdemeanor, the court issues a letter informing the defendant of their missed court date and informing them about a new court date. The court will issue an arrest warrant if the defendant does not appear at the next scheduled hearing. If the missed date was a felony hearing, the court might issue a warrant immediately.
The warrant will be entered into the police database, and any contact with law enforcement anywhere in the country will likely result in arrest. The defendant will be held without bond until their arraignment. If the judge allows a bond on the failure to appear charge, it will likely be much higher than the bond on the underlying charge. A local failure to appear attorney could work to get the bench warrant canceled and resolve the situation before it escalates.
Reasons for Failing to Appear in Court
A prosecutor must prove an intention to evade justice in the underlying case. Failure to appear is a crime only if the defendant willfully skipped a court date. Often, a defendant’s absence results from an emergency or a mistake.
If the defendant could not attend court because of a legitimate emergency, a Bridgeport lawyer could work to get the charges dismissed. Legitimate excuses for missing court might include:
- A medical emergency of the defendant or a defendant’s immediate family member
- The death of a close family member
- A vehicle accident on the way to court
- A required appearance at another court proceeding
Having to work or not having a babysitter are usually unacceptable reasons for missing a court date. However, a court might show leniency if a defendant can produce phone records or copies of emails showing an attempt to reschedule. Our lawyers in Bridgeport could help gather this documentation to explain a defendant’s reason for missing their court date.
If the defendant can prove they changed addresses between the date of their arraignment and their scheduled court date, a court might accept the excuse that they did not receive a hearing notice. However, the defendant must ensure the court has their accurate contact information. The court could reject the lack of notice excuse if the defendant did not update their address.
Resolving a Failure to Appear Charge
Defendants should contact a Bridgeport attorney as soon as possible after a missed court appearance. The attorney and the defendant could appear in court together to explain the circumstances and apologize for the inconvenience. In many cases, the judge will schedule a new court date if the defendant assures the court that they intend to appear. However, the court will often increase the defendant’s bond.
Prosecutors and the courts take failure to appear charges seriously, but they also have full dockets. They can often be persuaded to drop a failure to appear charge if the defendant is remorseful. Our legal team could help a defendant prepare their statement to the judge and assure the court that the defendant will appear for all scheduled dates in the future.
Contact a Bridgeport Attorney Immediately After Missing a Court Date
Missing a court date can lead to severe consequences if you do not take immediate steps to resolve the situation. Regardless of the reasons for your non-appearance, a Bridgeport failure to appear lawyer can work to resolve the matter with minimal consequences. The sooner you contact legal counsel, the better.
Reach out as soon as you realize you missed your court date. Call Ruane Attorneys to discuss your situation and learn your legal options.