What Happens If I Don't Show Up For Court?

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Aug 22

Lewis & Laws

What Happens If I Don't Show Up For Court?

by Lewis & Laws

What Happens If I Don't Show Up For Court?

A court date or hearing can be a very scary thing. Even if you’re innocent, the idea of going into a courtroom is an extremely intimidating prospect. Additionally, because court dates are set by the courts (and not you), they can be inconvenient or even impossible to make without missing school, work, or other important events. Transportation, parking, and other factors can all make it tough to get where you need to be on time.

As a result, many people think (or hope) that they can simply skip their court date and get another one. This could not be further from the truth—failure to appear is, in and of itself, a serious crime.

A Date You Legally Can’t Miss

In Washington State, it’s against the law for an individual to miss any type of courtroom proceeding—whether it’s a hearing, a trial, or any other reason you may be called before a judge. Even if you’re called to court for something relatively small, like a traffic ticket, failing to appear without making other arrangements can lead to much higher penalties and possibly criminal charges.

And while some mitigating factors may reduce these penalties, depending on the circumstances surrounding your arrest and your charges, not showing up to court can actually be classified as a felony charge. In some jurisdictions, you may even be charged with contempt of court, which can lead to jail time.

If you were detained and released on bail, you may face even more serious charges. Called “bail jumping,” failure to appear after being released on your own recognizance can lead to fines of up to $20,000 and an additional several years in prison.

As soon as you miss your court date, a bench warrant for your arrest will be issued. In some instances, you may even be arrested without a warrant. And though you may hope that eventually, the case will go away, it won’t—court officers and police are very good at finding individuals with outstanding warrants.

Accidents Happen

Of course, sometimes, you simply get held up. Car trouble, especially bad traffic, or a family emergency may all preempt a court hearing and an experienced defense attorney can help you navigate the system and plead your case.

One thing that is important to remember: It’s never too late to retain legal counsel and to improve your situation.

Even if you’ve missed a court hearing, the legal team at Baker, Lewis, Schwisow & Laws, PLLC, are prepared and equipped to help you seek the best possible outcome in court. We understand that things come up, that there may be legitimate reasons why you didn’t appear, and are willing to work with you and courts to make things right.

Missed A Court Hearing? It’s Not Too Late

The attorneys at Baker, Lewis Schwisow & Laws, PLLC, have decades of experience helping those who have been charged with crimes assess their options. We strive for the best possible outcome. To find out if what steps you need to take contact a Seattle defense lawyer today for a free case evaluation at 206.209.0608 or fill out our online contact form!



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