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How do I handle a bench warrant for a missed court date (civil matter) on a contempt hearing?

Greenfield, MA |

Hi, I had a civil case in Massachusetts where I couldn't pay the amount owed. I then got a letter for a contempt of court hearing. Unfortunately I missed that court date. I'm assuming there is a bench warrant now. How do I handle it? Can I call the court and reschedule my hearing? Are the police now going to come to my house looking for me?

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Attorney answers 2


The County Sheriff's Office will have the bench warrant for your arrest. You should immediately contact the opposing party's attorney and attempt to resolve the matter without the need to go to court to remove the warrant. However, do not be surprised if you are contacted by the Sheriff's Office. Moreover, if you fail to follow-up with the Sheriff's Office, they most likely will come to your home or place of work and put you into custody, and have you brought before the court.

Judges do not look kindly upon individuals who simply do not show up to court. You should be prepared to articulate a valid reason as to why you simply missed the court date. Contact the opposing attorney immediately!

Good luck!


My colleague gives you good advice. By listening to him, you will have more control over the proceedings rather than having the need to look out your window every couple of seconds, being arrested, or trying to flee arrest.

I hope the reason that you did not skip the court date is simply because you could not pay the obligation, because now you most likely will have to pay the obligation and the opposing attorney's fees if the opposing attorney (and other fees imposed at the discretion of the judge) showed up in court in anticipation of the hearing.

At or before the hearing, depending on the identity of your opponent or opposing attorney, it probably would have been easier to arrive at an agreement on the "damages" and maybe even set up a payment plan. Failing an agreement, you would have provided yourself a chance of arguing your case where the burden of proof would have been on your opponent.

At this point, call the opposing attorney. If there is no opposing attorney and there is no restraining order in place, contact the opposing party.

The content of this answer should not be relied upon or used as a subsitute for consultation with professional advisors and it should be clearly understood that no attorney-client privilege has been created. A more complete answer and/or more accurate answer can only be provided in a more thorough examination of the facts in a consultation with my firm.