Do I HAVE to appear at all my Court dates?
You MUST appear at all Court dates. While you are facing criminal charges the Court has a right to set bail in order to ensure your appearance, or hold you permanently throughout the entirety of the case depending on the charge.
What is a bench warrant?
A bench warrant is a document ordering your arrest, which is issued by a judge. The document signals the warrant squad of that particular Court to begin searching for you, it also is added to your permanent record so if you are stopped by the police for ANY reason this will show up and you will be held in custody.
Will a bench warrant be issued if i miss a Court date?
GENERALLY YES! however, in some circumstances your lawyer may be exceptionally good at their job and convince a judge to stay a warrant, meaning that they will give you another chance to show up in Court without issuing a warrant for your arrest.
What do i do if a bench warrant is issued against me?
Your best bet is usually to turn yourself in as quickly as possible and offer an explanation for you not being able to be present. Obviously, the better the explanation the less likely that there will be any increased punishment such as a bail increase, or remand.
What if i dont turn myself in?
If you do not turn yourself in there will be a warrant out for your arrest, and as stated in step 2 this will cause you to be held in custody on any future police contact.
What happens after youre arrested on the warrant?
After you've been arrested on the warrant you will be brought back to the same Court you warranted from and the judge will decide whether to permit you to be released without bail, whether to issue new bail or a higher bail, or may potentially make you an offer to finish the case then and there, many times this offer involving jail time.
Is it illegal to miss a Court date? Will there be any extra punishment?
YES! and YES! if you fail to show up for Court there may be added Felony charges of bail jumping which you could face, these new charges would be essentially a new case against you and given that there is clear Court record stating your lack of appearance, unless you can prove that you were hospitalized for the length of your absence or in prison or some other location which did not permit you to present yourself in Court.
Will there be any harm to my record if i miss a Court date?
even if you turn yourself in, REMEMBER the Court system and bail works like credit. You may be given a chance this time, but there will be a record of your absence and of the warrant issued against you, as well as how long it takes you to return on that warrant... If you are arrested again in that state, the Court will know your warrant history and this may very well affect if they permit you to leave without bail at your next arraignment, or if they ask for minor or major amounts of money in order to insure your appearance