How to Fix Warrants for Missing Court in Pinellas County Florida

how long do you stay in jail for a warrant for missing court Date

What Happens If You Miss a Court Date

When life gets busy, it’s not uncommon for people to forget important dates. Unfortunately, missing a court date is one of those things that can have serious consequences. In this article, we will explore the various aspects of what happens if you miss a court date. From the initial summons to potential penalties and ways to handle such situations, we will cover it all.

The Summons: Understanding Your Obligation

Receiving the Court Summons

The journey begins with the arrival of a court summons. This official document informs you about the date and time you are required to appear in court. It’s crucial not to ignore this summons, as it’s your legal obligation.

What if You Can’t Attend?

Life can be unpredictable, and there may be valid reasons preventing you from attending court on the specified date. In such cases, it’s essential to take prompt action.

Consequences of Missing a Court Date

Issuance of a Bench Warrant

When you miss a court date without a valid reason, a bench warrant is often issued for your arrest. This means that law enforcement can arrest you at any time.

Revocation of Bail or Bond

If you were released on bail or bond, missing your court date may result in its revocation. You could be sent back to jail until your trial.

Forfeiture of Collateral

In some cases, you may have provided collateral to secure your release. Missing a court date could lead to the forfeiture of this collateral.

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How to Handle an Outstanding Bench Warrant, Arrest Warrant, or a Missed Court Date

If you discover that a bench warrant or arrest warrant has been issued against you or you missed a court date, the most important thing to do is take action immediately. If you don’t, you’ll have to worry constantly about the possibility of being arrested and taken to jail. Plus, matters can get worse in your criminal case. Below we’ll review steps to avoid a bench or arrest warrant in the first place and what to do if one is issued.

see also Elmore County District Court

What Is a Bench Warrant? What Is an Arrest Warrant?

Courts issue bench and arrest warrants for various reasons.

Bench Warrants

Courts most commonly issue bench warrants for failing to appear in court (this applies to defendants and subpoenaed witnesses), violating probation, or failing to comply with a court order to pay a fine, complete community service, pay child support, or do some other act. The bench warrant directs law enforcement to take a person into custody and bring the person before the court to address the reason the warrant was issued. If you’re picked up on a bench warrant, you could be held in jail until the court has a hearing on your case, or you could be required to post a high bond and pay court fees.

Arrest Warrants

If the police have enough evidence that you committed a crime, an officer can ask a judge to issue a warrant for your arrest. The warrant might call for your immediate arrest. Other times, a pending arrest can hang over your head for a while. Police may plan a warrant sweep, where they take one day to find and arrest dozens of people with outstanding warrants. Once in custody, you can be held without bail until an arraignment, release hearing, or similar proceeding.

How to Avoid a Bench Warrant: Follow Court Orders and Show Up to Court

The easiest way to avoid a bench warrant is to comply with the court’s orders by showing up to court as scheduled (and on time) and following any conditions of release or probation.

What to Do If You Can’t Make Court Appearance?

If you can’t make the scheduled hearing or even if you’re running late, contact your lawyer immediately to get their advice. If you don’t have an attorney, call the court clerk to let them know or to see if you can reschedule. The court doesn’t have to reschedule and, if you show up late or don’t appear, the judge can still issue a bench warrant. But, a judge might give you a second chance if your efforts were legitimate (and you haven’t no-showed before).

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Tip: See If Your Court Sends Text or Email Reminders for Court Dates Missing court appearances happens a lot. So much, that some courts have set up text and email reminder programs. If your court has a reminder program, sign up.

What to Do If You Have Probation or Supervision Questions?

For probationers, generally, your first point of contact will be your probation officer if you can’t make a scheduled visit or have other questions regarding your conditions. If you don’t have a probation officer, you’ll likely need to direct any questions to the court clerk or talk to your attorney.

What Is an Outstanding Warrant?

If you failed to show up at court, violated a court order, or broke the law, the court has likely issued a bench or arrest warrant against you. Until it’s resolved—by you going before a judge, turning yourself in, or getting arrested—you’ll have an outstanding warrant.

Having an outstanding warrant means police can arrest you at most any time—whether that’s during a routine traffic stop, at your home or work, or when you appear in court on another matter—and then bring you to jail. By taking action immediately, you might be able to avoid arrest or jail time or, at least, minimize the consequences.

How to Handle or Take Care of an Outstanding Warrant

If you missed a court date or know that you have an outstanding warrant, contact your lawyer for advice on how to best handle the situation. Your attorney may be able to contact the court or police and arrange for you to appear before a judge or turn yourself in rather than having cops show up at your door. If you missed your court date because of an emergency (such as a car accident or medical emergency), you will need to provide the court with solid proof of the time, date, and extent of the emergency.

Many courts and law enforcement agencies also post information online regarding outstanding warrants, including how to find out whether you have an outstanding warrant and what to do if that’s the case. Some courts and agencies have warrant hotlines to assist with rescheduling court dates or turning yourself in. A city or county might even schedule a city-wide or county-wide warrant day or clinic to allow individuals to resolve warrant issues.

Additional Consequences of an Outstanding Warrant

Depending on the circumstances, you might face additional consequences relating to the outstanding warrant. For instance, failure to appear in court can be a crime in and of itself. If you’re out on bail, you could face charges for bail jumping, have your bail revoked (meaning you’ll be in jail until trial), have bail forfeited, or any or all of these. If you’ve failed to comply with court orders, like paying child support, you could end up with contempt charges. For those on probation, the consequences can be even worse. The judge might revoke your probation and require you to serve your sentence. Talk to a Lawyer.

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Having an outstanding warrant can be stressful. Talk to a criminal defense attorney in your area to get advice on what to do. An attorney can help walk you through your options and represent you in any related court hearings.

see also Waukesha County Courthouse

Handling a Missed Court Date

Contacting the Court

If you realize you can’t attend your court date, it’s vital to contact the court as soon as possible. Explain your situation and ask for guidance on how to proceed.

Rescheduling the Court Date

In some instances, the court may allow you to reschedule your court date, especially if you have a valid reason for missing it.

Appearing Voluntarily

If a bench warrant has been issued, it’s advisable to turn yourself in voluntarily. This may reflect positively on your case and help mitigate the consequences.

Legal Consequences

Additional Charges

Missing a court date could lead to additional charges, such as failure to appear, which may result in fines or jail time.

Impact on Your Case

Your failure to appear can negatively affect your case. The court may rule against you, and it could be more challenging to defend your innocence.

Damaging Your Reputation

A missed court date can have long-term consequences, including damaging your reputation and future Opportunities

Conclusion

In conclusion, missing a court date is not something to be taken lightly. It can lead to a cascade of legal issues and negatively impact your life in various ways. If you find yourself in such a situation, it’s crucial to act promptly, contact the court, and seek legal advice.

FAQs

  1. How long can an outstanding warrant last? Outstanding warrants can last indefinitely, so it’s crucial to address them promptly.
  2. Can an outstanding warrant affect my job prospects? Yes, having an outstanding warrant can show up in background checks and impact job opportunities.
  3. Is it possible to clear an outstanding warrant without going to jail? Yes, by taking proactive steps like contacting your lawyer or turning yourself in, you may be able to avoid immediate arrest.
  4. Can I travel if I have an outstanding warrant? Traveling with an outstanding warrant is risky, as you could be arrested at any point during your journey.
  5. Can an attorney help me with an outstanding warrant even if I’m innocent? Absolutely, an attorney can assist in clearing your name and addressing any misunderstandings related to the warrant.
  6. Can I reschedule a court date if I have a legitimate reason for missing it? Yes, in some cases, the court may allow you to reschedule your court date if you have a valid reason.
  7. What happens if a bench warrant is issued for my arrest? If a bench warrant is issued, law enforcement can arrest you at any time. It’s best to turn yourself in voluntarily.
  8. How can missing a court date impact my case? Missing a court date can result in negative consequences for your case, such as the court ruling against you or additional charges.

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