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Posted on January 22, 2016 in Crime

I Never Received My Court Date, Am I Responsible for Failing to Appear?

If you fail to show up for a court date, you could face criminal charges. It doesn’t matter if your court date was set to contest a traffic citation or to address more serious charges. Court orders are non-negotiable, and a judge has the authority to put a warrant out for your arrest if you fail to appear in court.

Where Are Court Orders Sent?

Courts typically use the address on your driver’s license to send court orders. Clerical mistakes do happen, and sometimes the information provided is unintentionally wrong. You may have just moved or the government may be processing your new address. As long as you can prove the missed court date was completely unintentional, you may not face serious consequences.

In some cases, not receiving the court order is not considered a valid excuse. If you have lived at a different address for a certain amount of time without updating your address, you may be responsible for any mail sent to the old address. Giving your arresting officer the wrong address does not constitute a valid excuse for missing your court date.

Bench Warrants vs. Arrest Warrants

When you fail to show up for a court date, the court may impose a bench warrant. Bench warrants are a written order authorizing an arrest but they are not as serious as an arrest warrant. Officers will actively search for fugitives who have outstanding arrest warrants, but they will typically only arrest those with bench warrants if they happen to come across them during the normal course of duty.

What To Do If There Is a Warrant Out For Your Arrest

Most people who miss their court date find out when an arrest warrant has been issued. If there is a warrant of any kind out for your arrest, you can check the Arizona warrants directory or contact the courthouse directly. However, we highly recommend you consult legal counsel first. Without legal counsel, the court may or may not listen to your reason for missing the appearance.

Explain your situation in full to a defense attorney. Depending on the circumstances, your attorney may call the courthouse, have the warrant vacated (voided), and schedule a new court date. In some cases, your attorney may not be able to lift the warrant without bail. Each situation and jurisdiction may operate differently.

Facing Charges After Failing to Show For a Court Date

Anytime a law enforcement officer arrests you, you will have to make an appearance in court. Your appearance date may be a few weeks or a few months down the road. Contact the court soon after your arrest or stay in touch with your lawyer to ensure you do not miss your initial court date or any subsequent court dates.

If you were previously arrested due to a criminal charge, you may face more severe charges for failing to show up for your court date. For example, appearing in court is important after a DUI arrest, regardless of guilt. If you are innocent of the charges, you may still lose your driving privileges and go to jail for failure to appear in court.

Contact a Criminal Defense Attorney Today

After facing a criminal charge or an outstanding warrant, contacting a criminal defense attorney in Phoenix as soon as possible can help you avoid additional charges for missing a court date. An attorney will not only defend you in trial, he or she will also help you keep track of court dates, paperwork, and other matters in your case.

Missing a court date is a fairly regular occurrence in the court system, and the right attorney may easily resolve the matter without further consequences. For more information regarding missed court dates and court appearances, contact Orent Law Offices today.