When you have been arrested for violating a criminal law, it is merely on suspicion. You have not yet been found guilty, and therefore there is no conviction. The State of California must go through the legal procedures and find you guilty in a court of law beyond a reasonable doubt. Only then can they convict you of the criminal charge. They may also find you guilty if you enter a plea of guilty.
In order for the state to begin the legal process, they must summon you to Court. When you are arrested, you are given a court date on your citation, or arrest report. This is not a voluntary date, you MUST appear before the Judge on or before that date. This is your arraignment date. There may be potential consequences if you do not show up to court on your scheduled date, depending on whether or not you are represented by a Los Angeles Criminal Defense lawyer.
If you are represented by a legal professional, you do not need to appear in court. Not personally appearing will make no difference to your case. It is the court’s understanding that the lawyer you have hired represents your best interests and is there to protect your rights. The lawyer will speak to the Judge or the Prosecutor with exactly that in mind and the Judge is aware that he or she will be speaking to your attorney directly, whether or not you are there. Many people mistakenly believe that if they are physically there it will leave a better impression on the Court. This is untrue. Most appearances are relatively quick, and the bulk of the work is done through negotiations between the attorney and the prosecutor. For those negotiations, you would not be present, regardless of whether it was in or out of court. Therefore, it is much more convenient for you to let your attorney appear on your behalf. After all, that is what you have hired them to do.
If you are not represented by a legal professional, you MUST appear in Court on the day you are scheduled to, or before. Not appearing has serious consequences. If you do not appear a bench warrant will be issued for your failure to appear. A failure to appear is its own separate charge. If you are stopped at any point thereafter by officers, or otherwise, they have a right to arrest you and take you into custody. You must then appear before a Judge and explain your failure to appear. You will either get an additional sentence at that point, or you may get the charge dismissed. In any case, if you do not have an attorney representing you, you MUST appear in Court.
There are huge benefits to having a Los Angeles Criminal Lawyer represent you. It gives you the convenience you need to continue your normal routine and it gives you the peace of mind you need.