I Missed My Court Date. What Do I Do Now?
Have you missed court date? Sondhi Defence attorneys discover what happens next, what the consequences are, and how they can help.
What Should You Do If You Missed Your Court Date
It can happen to anyone. You can simply forget that you have to attend court. Or life can throw unexpected challenges that can prevent you from appearing in court as planned. Whatever the reason you have for missing a court hearing, a missed court appearance must be taken seriously.
You could be charged with failure to appear, which is a criminal offence in Canada and can lead to additional criminal charges. In fact, there’s a good chance the judge may issue an arrest warrant and have you arrested and imprisoned.
But is there something you can do to avoid getting arrested or minimize the consequences? Keep reading to find out.
What Does Failure to Appear in Court Mean?
The Criminal Code of Canada (Section 145) outlines that the offence of failing to appear in court can occur when an individual fails, without lawful excuse, to attend court. It doesn’t really matter whether that is their first appearance or they have appeared in court before. Even someone who has appeared before a court before but fails to appear subsequently, as required by the court, can be charged with failing to appear.
What Happens When You Miss a Scheduled Court Appearance?
It is important to try and make an appearance at any court dates you have. If for some reason you miss a court date and a lawyer does not attend for you, the presiding officer may issue a bench warrant for your arrest.
If this happens, you could be arrested and held for a bail hearing, or be required to turn yourself in to the police. You might also be charged with the administration of justice charge of “failure to appear” under section 145 (2).
In certain situations, when an accused person misses a court date, the court will issue a bench warrant with discretion. Under these circumstances, the court will adjourn the matter to another remand date without authoring a bench warrant. If you appear in court on your next scheduled court date, the discretionary bench warrant can be cancelled. If you do not attend on that occasion, a bench warrant will be ordered.
The court will more likely issue a discretionary bench warrant if your failure to appear can be explained. If you can’t make it to your next court appearance, you can ask duty counsel, family member, or a friend to go to court for you and explain why you are missing court.
Why the Timing of the Bench Warrant is Important
If a brief amount of time has elapsed since the bench warrant was ordered, you can attend the court, prove you have a lawful excuse, and ask the court to have the bench warrant cancelled.
A lawful excuse means you have to establish due diligence on your part. In other words, if you missed court because you forgot or you didn’t feel well, that won’t be accepted as a lawful excuse. But, if you were, for example, hospitalized due to a serious health emergency, the judge may be more considerate.
If a bench warrant cannot be revoked, it is advisable to turn yourself in to the police as this might help your chances of being released back into the community after your bail hearing.
How Can an Attorney Help If You Missed Court?
A court hearing requires that the judge, the clerk, and you be present. Hence, judges tend to look at missed court appearances as disrespectful gestures. But, sometimes, you may be prevented from appearing in court on the requested date. If so, you should consider hiring counsel to appear on your behalf.
If you miss your court hearing, getting in touch with a criminal defence lawyer can be in your best interest. An attorney can determine whether there is a warrant in your name and advise you on what to do next.
Sondhi Defence is here to help with any criminal defence situation, including missing your court date. We have the advice and guidance you need to get the best possible outcome. Call us today to speak with one of our legal experts and get the help you need.