Most courts set bail amounts for people who are arrested for crimes, and the bail amount set is what must be paid to free a person from jail while they await their trial. Paying your bail money to get out of jail is a privilege, in a sense, as it allows you a way to go back home before you ever face the court trial for your charges. Once you are bailed out of jail, though, you must follow through with the court hearings for the crime you are being charged with. If you miss your first hearing or any of your court hearings, it is vital to understand the consequences you will face. It is also vital to understand what you should do if this happens.
The Consequences You May Face If You Skip Your First Court Date
Courts do not look favorably upon defendants who are bailed out of jail and then miss their court dates. In fact, courts never appreciate when a defendant misses any court dates that were scheduled. When you were just released from jail, though, and decide to miss your first court appearance, the judge may view you as a flight risk. This means that the judge may worry that you skipped town and are trying to hide from the courts and the law.
Because of this, courts are very strict with defendants who miss court dates, and they will often place consequences in effect immediately when this happens. One of the top consequences you could face is another arrest. The judge responsible for handling your case has the right to issue a bench warrant on you. This means that the police may look for you to arrest you for failure to appear. If the police find you, you will end up in jail again, and this time you might not be able to be bailed out so easily.
A second consequence you may face is a harsher charge against you. If this was the first charge you are facing in your life, the judge may have gone easy on you during your case. If you failed to show up to court, though, this changes things. Judges take this very seriously and will often stick with harsher punishments and charges for people when this occurs.
The Factors the Judge Will Consider If This Occurs
There are additional consequences of missing court dates, too, but these are the main ones. If this happens, the judge will factor certain things into the case and the way he or she handles your missed court appearance, and one of the factors will be your criminal record. If you do not have a criminal record and have a good excuse for not being present, the judge may go easier on you than he or she would if you are a repeat offender or did not have a good excuse for not appearing.
The Steps You Should Take If This Happens
The best thing you can do if you missed a court date is to hire a lawyer immediately. A criminal lawyer might be able to help you solve this problem without any major consequences, but it will require you acting quickly. In other words, do not run from the problem. Instead, try to solve the problem through the assistance of a criminal lawyer in your area.
If you are in a position where you inadvertently missed your court hearing, or even if you missed it on purpose, you should contact a criminal attorney right away to find out what the best options are for you to do at this time.