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What Can Happen If You Skip Your Criminal Court Hearing?

By Brett Snider, Esq. | Last updated on

So you skipped a criminal court hearing. You may be hoping to read that it's no big deal, but this isn't something trivial.

Real talk: It won't change the facts in your case, but it will change how the justice system treats you. Judges are given a large amount of discretion regarding bail and sentencing, even for very minor offenses, and missing a criminal hearing date may get you a raw deal.

So what can happen if you skip your criminal court hearing? Here are a few potential consequences:

Bench Warrant for Your Arrest

If you are a no-show at a criminal hearing that requires your appearance (e.g., arraignment, preliminary hearing, trial, etc.) a judge may find you in contempt of court and issue a bench warrant for your arrest. A bench warrant is an order by a judge that a defendant be arrested and brought before the authority of the court.

It is often within a judge's discretion to issue a bench warrant, and he or she may be swayed to be lenient if your attorney is able to offer a good reason why you could not make the hearing.

Bail, Bond, or Revocation of 'Own Recognizance' Release

After being arrested on suspicion of a crime, you will likely be held in police custody until you either post bail or bond or a judge releases you on your own recognizance. These forms of release are privileges given to defendants which can be revoked if the court finds its orders are being ignored or flouted.

Skipping a court hearing often signals a criminal judge to revoke any form of prior release and possibly remove the possibility of release until your criminal trial is over.

  • Know someone who has been arrested or charged with a crime? Get in touch with a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney in your area today.

Separate Criminal Charge

In addition to your pending criminal charge, by skipping a court date, you may find that you have an additional criminal charge for contempt of court. These charges typically include possible jail time and fines, which may be added to any other punishments you receive, not to mention additional bail (if bail is still an option).

Harsher Sentence

Judges are ethically charged with being unbiased, but in sentencing, they can take into account the regret or remorse a defendant expresses (or lack thereof) for committing a crime. Skipping court dates is typically a red flag for judges that the defendant lacks remorse, which may lead to harsher punishments.

With all this riding on making a criminal court date, why skip?

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