What Happens if I Missed Court?
On behalf of Randall & Stump, PLLC in Criminal Defense on Sunday, October 16, 2022
Being required to appear in court can be scary, but ignoring the situation only makes things worse. You should always appear in court as directed by your attorney and/or the judge. However, if you do miss your court date, there are a few steps you should take before returning to court.
You May Be Reported to the DMV
If your court appearance was related to a motor vehicle offense, you would be reported to the N.C. Division of Motor Vehicles (NCDMV). If you fail to appear within 20 days of the missed court date or otherwise handle the charge, the clerk must report you to the NCDMV, according to General Statutes (G.S.) 20-24.2.
The NCDMV may revoke your license and assess additional fees against you. Your driver’s license will remain revoked until your case is disposed of properly. This makes it even more difficult for you to get to court in the future.
The Judge Might Order Your Arrest
According to the NC Prosecutors’ Office, you may be arrested for violating pretrial release conditions if you fail to appear in court. The judge may revoke your pretrial release order and issue a new order for your arrest (OFA).
If your offense was only an infraction and you were charged by citation (such as a routine traffic ticket), the court would issue a criminal summons instead of an OFA. If you fail to respond to the summons, the court may enter an order to show cause for contempt.
You Could Be Charged with Contempt
If your failure to appear is willful, you may be held in contempt for disobeying a court summons or order. If there is probable cause to believe that you will fail to appear in response to the contempt order, the judge may also issue an order for your arrest (OFA) along with the show cause order for contempt.
You Could Face Charges for Criminal Failure to Appear
You may also face criminal charges for failure to appear (FTA). This could complicate your current charges and add significant time in jail or fines to your punishment if convicted.
What to Do When You Miss Your Court Date
If you miss your court date, you should not ignore the situation.
First, you should contact a local criminal defense attorney and explain your case. Let your attorney know that you had a court date, that you missed court, and tell them why you missed court. Your attorney will want to see your summons, arrest warrant, and/or other pretrial documents. Be prepared to give your attorney all paperwork you have received from the court or prosecutor about your charges and any penalties they have imposed for your failure to appear.
You can also call your local court clerk to find out the procedures for rescheduling your court date. Each county has different procedures, so you need to determine your next steps by calling the clerk or contacting your attorney.
Take Charge of the Situation If You Miss Court
If you miss your court date, you should immediately contact a criminal defense attorney who ensures you take steps to protect your rights. Your attorney may be able to help you keep your driver’s license and avoid other penalties, such as being put back in jail due to an outstanding order for arrest after missing your court date.