When you're bailed out of jail, you're promising the court that you will show up to all of your court dates. This promise is secured by a substantial amount of cash that your bail bondsman gives the court as a guarantee that you'll show up. Failing to attend court on the scheduled date of your hearing may result in additional criminal penalties along with the risk that the bail money will be seized by the court — it's very important that you show up to all of your scheduled hearings until your trial has concluded. Here's what you need to know about what happens when you're out on bail and you neglect to show up on the date of your scheduled court hearing.
What Happens When You Fail to Appear in Court on Your Court Date?
When you fail to appear in court, the court system will put out a warrant for your arrest. You will be charged with failure to appear, which means that you may face additional jail time once you're arrested and brought to court. You can expect future bail amounts to be higher — you may even be considered a flight risk and be denied bail entirely, forcing you to remain in jail all throughout the trial.
You must intentionally decide to not show up on your court date in order to be charged with failing to appear. If you are in an accident on the way to court or if you have a medical emergency that requires immediate hospitalization, you can most likely avoid being charged with failure to appear as long as you provide proof that you didn't skip your court date intentionally. If you don't show up in court because you had to work or because you needed to take care of your children, it's unlikely that the judge will consider this a valid excuse — the court expects you to call out of work and make childcare arrangements for the day of your court hearing.
Can You Avoid Consequences by Immediately Turning Yourself In?
You may receive a short grace period after missing your court date where you will be able to voluntarily turn yourself in without facing legal consequences. The length of the grace period and whether or not you receive one at all is determined by your particular court district and judge. You should never intentionally miss a court date with the assumption that you will receive a grace period — instead of offering you one, the court may immediately move towards creating a warrant for your arrest. If you are offered a grace period after failing to attend your court hearing, you should definitely make use of it and turn yourself in. You'll avoid additional charges for failing to appear along with the financial problems created by having your bail seized by the court.
What Should You Do If You Can't Attend Your Court Hearing?
If you know you won't be able to make it to your court hearing, the first step is to call your bail bondsman. Both you and your bail bondsman will receive a notice that you have failed to show up for your court date, so it's a good idea to give your bondsman some advance warning of your inability to appear. The second step is to talk to your hired defense attorney or public defender. They will ask the judge to reschedule your court hearing — this request may not always be granted, and you'll need to provide a good reason why you will be unable to attend court on the day of your hearing. Even if the rescheduling request is not granted, it does show the court that you attempted to reschedule your hearing instead of failing to show up without warning. This may make it easier for you to have your failure to appear charges dropped.
It is vital to show up to court on every date that you are scheduled to appear. If you neglect to show up, you may face additional charges and you or the person that guaranteed your bail bond may face severe financial penalties. If you will have difficulty going to court on your scheduled date or will be unable to attend, call your bail bondsman and inform them. Remaining in contact with your bail bondsman throughout the trial is important to avoid the financial consequences of having your bail seized by the court.