I've read every word that you posted.
A day in court is just that, your day in court. When you have a day in court your priority is to plan in advance to be in the court on your day in court. The other things are secondary. The judge, not the court clerk, is the authority. I wish I could give you a better answer, but when there is a court date, it is your day in court.
I truly wish you the best.
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In Virginia, you have 10 calendar days to appeal your case to the Circuit Court. Go to the courthouse and note the appeal. While the appeal is pending, you can also file a motion to rehear/reopen your case in the General District Court. As long as you file and the case is heard within 60 days of your conviction, the General District Court judge has the jurisdiction to rehear/retry your case. Explain to the clerk and the judge the reasons why you missed your court date. If the General District Court judge won't grant you the relief you are seeking, then your appeal in Circuit Court will give you a second chance. If you have to have the matter heard in Circuit Court, and if you are convicted, there will be additional court costs. Good luck.
Circuit Court appeals from General District Court are heard de novo. This means that the case is tried all over again and the decision in GDC is treated like it never happened.