What Happens if I Miss My Court Date in New York City?

What Happens if I Miss My Court Date in New York City?

Missing a court date can have serious consequences in New York City. If you fail to appear for a scheduled court hearing, the judge may issue a bench warrant for your arrest or continue without you, potentially making decisions that negatively impact your case. That’s why it’s critical to take court dates seriously and make every effort to attend.

Consequences of Missing Court in NYC

Some potential ramifications of missing court in NYC include:

  • Arrest warrant: The judge may issue a bench warrant authorizing police to arrest you and bring you to court. This can result in additional legal troubles, such as bail revocation or new charges for failure to appear (see more below). According to r/AskNYC, arrest warrants for failure to appear are commonly issued in NYC courts.
  • Case tried in absentia: Your case may proceed without you there, meaning the prosecutor presents their case and the judge makes rulings that impact you. According to this Avvo advice, this is rare but can happen.
  • Bail revocation: If you miss court while out on bail, the judge may revoke bail and issue a warrant, per NYC criminal lawyers.
  • New charges: Missing court can result in additional charges like bail jumping or failure to appear, which may be misdemeanors or felonies depending on the original case. These lead to new court dates, fines and possibly jail time per FindLaw.
  • Fines and fees: According to NY Courts, you may accrue fines and fees for missing court appearances. These vary based on the court and judge.
  • Case dismissal unlikely: While missing court may get low-level warrants, like traffic tickets, dismissed according to this LawInfo article, more serious criminal cases are unlikely to get dismissed due to failure to appear.

So in short – make every effort to avoid missing court dates in New York City or risk serious consequences.

What to Do If You Miss Court in New York City

If you do miss a court hearing, take these steps:

  • Contact your attorney immediately: If you have a lawyer, call them as soon as possible to make them aware and discuss options. They may be able to get the warrant lifted or vacated.
  • Request a new court date: In some cases, you may be able to explain why you missed court and get a new date, according to this Reddit advice. But there’s no guarantee.
  • Turn yourself in: If there’s a warrant out for you, turning yourself into police, with help from a lawyer, may lead to faster release and prevent additional charges according to NYC defense attorneys.
  • Request a hearing to lift warrant: Through your lawyer, you may be able to request a hearing to explain why you missed court and get the judge to lift the warrant. Success depends on the reason and judge.

While a failure to appear can be remedied, it should be avoided if at all possible. Speak to your attorney as soon as you suspect you may miss court to weigh options.

Why People Miss Court in New York City

There are many reasons New Yorkers miss scheduled court dates, including:

  • Forgot the date: NYC courts are overburdened and it’s easy to lose track of dates when stressed and dealing with life’s complications. According to this article, forgetting is common.
  • Couldn’t get off work: Getting last-minute time off for court can jeopardize jobs and incomes, leading some to reluctantly miss court.
  • Missed transportation: Traffic delays, subway issues, lack of childcare, and other transportation problems can also lead to missed court.
  • Avoided consequences: Some choose to miss court to temporarily avoid potential convictions, sentences, or proceedings. This risks additional legal troubles.
  • Health issues: Medical emergencies that arise suddenly, ongoing health problems, or hospitalization can all lead to missed court unintentionally.
  • Left state or country: According to Quora users, people may miss court if they permanently or temporarily move away.

No matter the reason, it’s best to take precautions to avoid missing court whenever possible to avoid dire legal consequences in New York City courts.

How to Avoid Missing Court Dates in New York City

To avoid missing court dates, be sure to:

  • Record court date details: Document the exact date, time, location, courtroom number, name of judge, and any other details so they can’t be forgotten.
  • Calendar reminders: Set multiple calendar reminders on your phone and computer leading up to the court date so you don’t lose track, advises this article from a law firm.
  • Request date/time changes: If the assigned court date genuinely does not work with your schedule, ask your lawyer to request a different day or time well in advance.
  • Arrange transportation: Set up transportation to and from court ahead of time so nothing derails you last minute. Give extra time for traffic and delays.
  • Take time off work: Get approval for taking time off work for the court date and hearings that follow. Speak to HR if required.
  • Have childcare lined up: If you have children, arrange for childcare coverage for the full duration of your required court time. Build in extra time as hearings often take longer than scheduled.
  • Mind health issues: Be proactive about health conditions that could flare up and cause you to miss court. Have medications refilled and follow doctor’s orders.
  • Stay local: Avoid leaving the state or country leading up to court dates and between hearings for a case. Moving can also cause issues.

While missing court can happen to anyone, following these tips will significantly reduce missed-court risks and help New Yorkers avoid related penalties.

What Type of Lawyer Do You Need if You Miss Court in New York City?

If you miss a New York City court appearance and face an arrest warrant, charges for failure to appear, or other legal troubles, you should retain legal counsel immediately. The type of lawyer you’ll need depends on the court and charges:

  • Criminal defense attorney: If you face new misdemeanor or felony charges, work with a criminal lawyer. They can help get warrants lifted and charges reduced or dismissed.
  • Traffic ticket lawyer: If you missed court for a traffic violation, traffic ticket lawyers can help fight failure to appear tickets and fines and may get cases dismissed.
  • DUI lawyer: For DUI cases, a DUI or drunk driving lawyer has specific experience handling related warrants and charges.
  • Divorce lawyer: If you miss court dates related to divorce, child custody or support, or other family court issues, meet with a family lawyer.
  • Immigration lawyer: Missing immigration hearings can jeopardize applications and lead to removal. An immigration attorney can request new dates.

Be sure to ask prospective lawyers about their experience with specific NYC courts and judges. Checking Avvo ratings and reviews for lawyers can also help ensure you choose the right legal counsel.

What to Expect at a Failure to Appear Hearing in New York City

If you missed court and face a failure to appear charge in New York City, your criminal defense lawyer can request a hearing to get the bench warrant lifted. Here’s how it may unfold:

  • You’ll go before the judge who issued the warrant, according to this resource. Your lawyer will explain the circumstances causing you to miss court.
  • The district attorney may argue you pose a flight risk if the judge lifts the warrant per NYC defense lawyers. Your lawyer will counter their claims.
  • You may take the stand to explain what happened, apologize to the judge, and promise it won’t happen again. Your honesty and sincerity can impact success.
  • The judge will consider arguments and evidence from both sides in deciding whether to vacate the warrant. According to NY Courts, they may request you waive extradition rights and agree to be brought from another state if you miss again.
  • If the judge agrees to lift the warrant, you’ll be released, though new failure to appear charges may still apply. If not, you may be taken into custody.

Having an experienced criminal lawyer in your corner increases the odds judges will give you another chance in New York City courts.