If you miss a court date in Philadelphia, you could face significant penalties. You need to act quickly to ensure the courts understand why you missed your court date and that you want to answer for the charges against you.
If you do not already have a Philadelphia criminal defense lawyer, you should contact one to discuss your options and next steps. Missing a court date could mean facing serious consequences. However, there may be options to help you stay out of jail and protect your future. You want a lawyer knowledgeable about these cases on your side as soon as possible.
What Will the Court Do If I Miss My Philadelphia Court Date?
If you miss a court date in Philadelphia, the judge may issue a bench warrant for your arrest as allowed under Rule 1910.13-1. A bench warrant allows the police to arrest and hold you for up to 72 hours to set a hearing to determine what will happen to you. You will remain in custody at least until you have another hearing.
In most cases, the police will not come looking for you to arrest you for a bench warrant. However, they might arrest you if they stop you for a traffic offense or if you otherwise encounter them. If they stop you on the street, you will not have time to contact a criminal defense attorney. You should consult a lawyer now because it could support a better outcome in your case and prevent your arrest.
The other consequences of missing a court date could seriously affect your everyday life. This could include suspension of your driver’s license, significant fines, and forfeiting your bond. You could have two issues to deal with—the original charge and the consequences of missing your court date.
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What Should I Do If I Missed a Philadelphia Court Date?
Missing a court date is contempt of court. You could face a contempt hearing. The judge ordered you to appear, and you failed to do so. Even if the court is not going to hold a separate contempt hearing, at a “bench warrant hearing” the judge will want to know whether you willfully missed court or have a legitimate excuse for failing to appear. What happens to you as a result depends greatly on the judge’s discretion. Having an attorney on your side could make a difference.
The first thing you should do after you realize you missed a court date is to talk to a criminal defense lawyer about your next steps. Generally, you will want to be apologetic and cooperative with the court and let an attorney explain your circumstances to the judge. This is the best way to potentially alleviate some of the harshest outcomes.
Your attorney will likely contact the court on your behalf as soon as possible after a missed court date. This shows you want to participate in the case and are willing to answer the accusations against you for the initial charge. They can also explain why you failed to appear and possibly schedule a new court date.
Are There Legitimate Reasons to Miss a Court Date in Philadelphia?
There are some reasons why people miss court dates that judges excuse, and the party does not face consequences. However, the judge will assess these circumstances on a case-by-case basis. Your attorney must present evidence to support your story and show the judge why you could not appear.
Some of the legitimate reasons why people miss their Philadelphia court dates include:
- Illness or injury that prevented them from traveling to court
- Medical emergencies that required immediate care
- A family member’s medical emergency
- Auto accidents that occurred immediately before the appearance
Be aware that the judge may not give much leeway in some of these situations. For example, if you tested positive for the flu several days before your court date, they will likely ask why you did not notify the court of your illness. A car accident the day before might force you to take SEPTA, use a rideshare, or get a ride. But they might still expect you to make it to court.
Occasionally, someone misses a court date because they did not receive a court notice to appear or there is a mix-up with the paperwork. A criminal defense lawyer should be able to ask the court to show that their client received the notice to appeal and challenge any consequences they face.
What Is the Role of a Criminal Defense Attorney After a Missed Court Date?
Having a Philadelphia criminal defense lawyer on your side after you miss a court date is the best way to alleviate some or all of the potential consequences of your contempt of court case. They might be able to keep you from getting arrested or facing charges for the missed court date.
Some reasons you want a defense attorney on your side during this time include:
- They will manage all communication with the court on your behalf
- They will gather evidence to show why you missed your court date
- They can schedule your next court date
- They will ensure you make all future appearances
- They can see if there is a bench warrant for your arrest and how to handle it
- They will explain the possible consequences of your missed court date
- They will protect your rights
- They will represent you in your contempt of court case and the case based on your original charge
Sometimes, a person is arrested on a bench warrant before they realize they missed a court date. If this happened to you, you still want a lawyer. They can represent you in your hearing, work to minimize the consequences you face, help you get out of jail, and represent you in the case based on your original charges.
Talk to a Philadelphia Criminal Defense Lawyer About Missing a Court Date
You can talk to a criminal defense team in Philadelphia today for free. Call the Law Offices of M.J. Snyder, LLC. We offer a free consultation for those facing criminal allegations or charges. We can help you understand your rights and help you build a strong defense. Contact us today to learn more.