Last Updated on May 11, 2022 by Fair Punishment Team
Going to court is a big deal. You have to attend a hearing or a trial, whether you are going as a witness, or as the defendant, you need to be there.
If you’ve been accused of a crime, minor or serious, then you need to be put through the criminal justice system, in order to prove or disprove your innocence. If you were a witness to a felony of some kind, and you contain vital information that will help put a case to rest.
Whatever side of the law you are facing, having to go to court is almost always a serious moment in your life. Making it to the court date for the hearing or trial should be one of your top priorities when it is coming up.
Unfortunately, life has a habit of getting in the way of things that need to happen. Sometimes, something will come up so suddenly, that you’ll have no choice to miss your court case. When that happens, there can be serious consequences for not informing the court in time. You’ll need to act quickly, and with as much information as possible.
We have compiled some of the most critical details you’ll need to know if you have to reschedule your court date.
What happens if you miss your court date?
It is important to distinguish the reasons why is it vital for both defendants and witnesses must do everything they can to appear at a court date. As both parties have vital but very different roles in the judicial process, sometimes the finer details need to be made clear.
We also need to cover what happens if you do miss a court date without notifying the appropriate authorities. Regardless of what role you play on your court day, as an absent witness, or a missing defendant, the consequences are severe.
For a defendant, going to court for your hearing and trial is always a part of your commitments after paying your bail and being released. As a result of this, it is a legal requirement for you to attend these hearings for a criminal case you are a part of.
For a witness, a court requires as much evidence as possible for them in order to make the most informed decision they can, given the circumstances. Often this requires witness accounts in the event of a crime, In order to make sure that a witness appears at a given court date, an office of authority, in this case, the court, will issue what is known as a subpoena to a person.
A subpoena is a legal summons that requires that the person in question appear at the court to testify as a witness to the crime being charged. This is a legally binding summon, meaning that you, as a witness to events, are legally required to attend the court date for the trial.
Regardless of if you are going to court as a witness, or as a defendant, if you do not appear in court on the given date, there are very serious and repercussions for not appearing. Not turning up to court when you are required to means you are in contempt of court, which is a criminal offense in itself. Just a few of the consequences are:
- Bench Warrant – This functions the same as an arrest warrant does. The police have the authority to arrest you, in order to bring you to court so that you can carry out your role as intended, or until the case has concluded.
- Bail Bond – If you are a defendant, then your bail is revoked, and you will be forced to remain in jail until you go to trial.
- Contempt of Court – As stated above, it is a misdemeanor offense to not sure up to court when legally required, and you may get charges as such, with either a considerable fine or up to 1 year of jail time.
- Harsher sentence – As a defendant, if you are found guilty, your shown contempt of court may bring with it a worse sentence than you would otherwise have, though the judge will make the final decision on that.
There are a number of other consequences that could happen if you do not appear on your court date. Needless to say, you should not let this happen.
Can you reschedule your court date?
With this in mind, it is in your best interests to let the court know if you are unable to make it to a scheduled court date. However, it should be noted that you need to make every effort to appear to the court on the day. It isn’t the same as booking an appointment with a doctor, for example.
That being said, there is the chance that you have exhausted all other options, and you still aren’t able to make a court date. Maybe you are having a medical emergency or a family emergency of some kind. Perhaps you need to prepare more for the day.
If this is the case, here are some steps you can take to try and reschedule your court date:
- If you are a defendant, you should contact your lawyer. There is a chance that they can help reschedule a new court date without needing to be involved
- If possible, go to the court before your scheduled court date. You will want to do this as ahead of schedule as is possible for you. They will be able to tell you what your current options are. If they ask you to sign any paperwork, make sure you are doing it as promptly as possible. How much you have to fill in may vary on your location, the exact details can vary from state to state.
- Request a continuance on t day of the scheduled court date. This is only an option that can be done if you have no time to otherwise notify the judge if you are a defendant.
It should be noted that your request is not guaranteed to be approved by the judge or the court. It is entirely up to their discretion whether you will be able to reschedule, or if they will charge you with contempt of court.
So, to summarize what we have discussed, yes. It is technically possible for you to reschedule a court date should the need arise.
However, it should only be done if no alternative is possible for your issue to be resolved, and it should be done as early as possible. Always keep the relevant authorities up to date on what is currently happening with your situation. In the end, it will be up to the court, and the court themselves, to decide you a rescheduling is possible.