What Happens if I Miss My Court Appearance in a Los Angeles Criminal Case?

When you have been arrested for a California Criminal charge you will be given a court date upon which you must appear. If you look carefully on the citation it will say that you must appear “on or before” and a date. It is possible to advance your court date

This means that if you cannot appear in Court on the date stated on your citation, you may appear on any day prior to that day. You will have to go to your assigned courtroom and inform the clerk that you are advancing your case to that day. However, you cannot appear AFTER the date stated on your citation. If you do, a warrant will be issued against you.

If you do not appear for your court date, or appear prior to that court date, a bench warrant will be issued against you for no appearance. If a warrant is out against you, police officers or enforcement authorities have the right to arrest you right there on the spot.

Officers will take you into custody and you will be brought before a Judge to explain your actions and your failure to appear. If the Judge charges you with the failure to appear, you will have an additional charge on your record, on top of the one you were previously asked to appear for.

A Los Angeles Criminal Defense attorney can represent you at a Bench Warrant hearing. In fact, it is a good idea to be represented. An attorney can use their extensive knowledge and experience to convince the Judge to dismiss the bench warrant and argue that it was error and the person being charged should not be penalized.

Let’s consider an example. David has currently moved from an old residence to a new one. He is in the process of forwarding his mail. About 3 months ago, prior to moving, David had been arrested for a DUI but was never officially charged. Then after moving, the District Attorney sent a notice to David that he was now being charged with that DUI from 3 months ago. Unfortunately, due to the move, David never received the notice and did not appear in Court. While David was driving home from work one day, he ran a stop sign and was stopped by officers. Seeing that David had failed to appear, he was immediately arrested and taken into custody.

An experienced attorney will prepare their paperwork and go into court ready to argue on behalf of David. With the expertise and a powerful argument, the attorney shall convince the prosecutor to dismiss the failure to appear charge and in some cases, the DUI charge as well. In the very least, it will be goal of the attorney to minimize the charges against their client as much as possible.