This legal guide discusses what can happen if you miss a court date for a criminal or traffic offense in Virginia.
Tried and Convicted in Absence
If you fail to show up to a court date for a traffic or criminal charge in Virginia, you could be tried and convicted in your absence. In order to do this, the Commonwealth Attorney must waive jail-meaning, they will not be asking for a jail sentence if the person is convicted. The judge will impose a penalty, usually a fine, and court costs are assessed to every case that results in a conviction. Failure to pay court costs within 30 days could result in driver's license suspension by the DMV. Additionally, some offenses result in mandatory DMV demerit points upon conviction.
Another possible result of failing to show up for your court date in Virginia is that the judge could issue a Rule to Show Cause why you should not be convicted for Failure to Appear. This is an additional charge which can result in a separate conviction as well as a possible additional jail sentence.
Bench Warrant for Arrest
Failing to show up for a court date in Virginia for a traffic or criminal case can also result in the judge issuing a bench warrant for your arrest for Failing to Appear, which is a separate charge from the underlying offense. If there is a bench warrant issued, you could be arrested any time for Failing to Appear on your court date. It will be difficult to get a bond on this charge and you will likely remain in jail until your next court date. Failing to Appear on a misdemeanor charge will be charged as an additional misdemeanor, and Failing to Appear on a Felony charge will be charged as a felony.
In addition to facing new criminal charges, failing to appear at a court date can result in the person's bond being revoked. This means that the person will be held in jail until the charges are resolved, even though he or she may have paid a monetary bond for release.
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