Consequences of a Missed Court Date: What You Need to Know

I Missed My Court Date. What Do I Do Now?

 

Facing consequences for a missed court date? Sondhi Defence attorneys can help protect your rights and navigate legal challenges. Learn more here.

 

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 prevent you from appearing in Court as planned. Whatever your reason 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 can you do something to avoid getting arrested or minimize the consequences? Keep reading to find out.

 

Understanding the Consequences of a Missed Court Date

 

Missing a court date can have serious consequences, including:

Arrest Warrant

As mentioned above, if you fail to appear in Court as scheduled, a judge can issue an arrest warrant against you. This means that at any time and without warning, the police can show up at your doorstep and arrest you.

Contempt of Court

In addition to facing criminal charges for failure to appear, you could also be charged with contempt of Court. This can lead to fines or even jail time.

Additional Criminal Charges

Depending on the nature of your case and the reason for missing Court, you may also face additional criminal charges. For example, if you miss a court date for a DUI case, the judge may also add a charge of failure to appear.

Negative Impact on the Case

A missed court date can hurt your ongoing legal case. The judge may become more skeptical or less lenient towards you, reducing your chances of receiving a favourable outcome.

Ex Parte Judgment

If you miss a court appearance without notifying the Court or providing an acceptable reason, the judge may proceed with an ex parte judgment. This means your case will be heard and decided in your absence, and the decision could go against you. It may also result in a default judgment, where you automatically lose the case.

 

What to Do If You Missed Your Court Date

 

If you have missed your court date, taking action immediately is essential. Here are some steps you can take:

  1. Contact the Court Immediately: As soon as you realize you have missed a court appearance, contact the Court and explain your situation. Ask if there’s anything you can do to reschedule or make up for the missed appearance.
  2. Hire an Attorney: If you are facing criminal charges or fear possible consequences of missing Court, it’s best to seek legal representation immediately. An experienced attorney can advise you on the best course of action and help protect your rights in Court.
  3. Appear at the Next Court Date: Make sure you appear at the next scheduled court date to avoid further consequences and show the Court that you take your case seriously.
  4. Have a Valid Reason: If there was a valid reason for missing your court date, make sure you have proof to support your claim. This could include medical records, travel documents, or other relevant evidence.

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 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 Court Appearance?

 

It is essential to try to appear at any court dates you have. If you miss a court date and a lawyer does not attend on your behalf, 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 into the police. You might also be charged with the administration of justice for “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. The discretionary bench warrant can be cancelled if you appear in Court on your next court date. A bench warrant will be ordered if you do not attend on that occasion.

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 cancel the bench warrant.

A lawful excuse means you have to establish due diligence on your part. In other words, if you missed Court because you forgot or didn’t feel well, that won’t be accepted as a lawful excuse. But, if you were, for example, hospitalized due to a severe health emergency, the judge may be more considerate.

If a bench warrant cannot be revoked, you should turn yourself into 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 the judge, the clerk, and you to 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, contacting 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 for the best possible outcome. Call us today to speak with one of our legal experts and get the help you need.

Get In Touch

If you or someone you know has been charged with a criminal offence, call us right away at 416-706-9084 and get our team on your side. 

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