Often is the case that people come to me for legal help after it’s too late. What I mean by that is they neglect to attend their first court date, either because they forget, they don’t know they have to go, or their scared.
When someone is arrested on most misdemeanor charges, they are released with a citation. On the bottom of that citation is a court date. That court date is an arraignment. When a person misses the arraignment, in addition to facing an additional criminal charge of “failure to appear,” a bench warrant gets issued by the judge. While that warrant is outstanding, a person runs the risk of getting picked up by the police. The only way to get rid of the warrant is to have the case put back on calendar and request that the judge “recall and quash” the warrant. It is always best to have an attorney do this rather than the person themselves because the judge does have the authority to take the person into custody.
Once the warrant is recalled, the case can proceed as if the person showed up at arraignment.
What if your case has concluded, but the person is on probation and has been ordered to complete “terms of probation” such as take a class? Often, when the court has required a person to do something, the court will set hearings to check the progress of that thing. Similarly, if a person misses a progress hearing, the court will issue a bench warrant.
For example, in DUI cases, the court usually requires that a person enroll and complete a DUI program. The court will schedule a proof of enrollment hearing, progress hearings, and a proof of completion hearing. Many times, people miss these court dates as well because they failed to do what they were supposed to regarding the program and are scared to go into court.
Failing to go into court will only make things much worse. In addition to the warrant being issued, the person runs the risk of a probation violation. If the judge finds that the person violated probation, they run the risk of the judge sentencing them to the maximum of what they were originally convicted of.
If you have a court date, make sure you’re there or, better yet, have a lawyer go for you. If you have a warrant because missed a court date, hire a lawyer to recall and quash the warrant and do some damage control.