New changes in the law have made it easier for defendants to explain a missed court date prior to the issuance of a bench warrant. If you have recently missed a court date, contact our office right away to speak to a defense lawyer.
Recent Changes in New York Bail Bond Laws
If you miss court, a bench warrant could be issued for your arrest, even if you are only charged with a minor offense. A bench warrant is signed by a judge and directs police to arrest you, which means that you could be sent to jail unexpectedly on your way to work. For example, if you are pulled over for an unrelated offense, you could end up in jail for a night or longer because of the missed court date.
Luckily, bail bond laws have changed in New York which make it easier to explain your absence as long as you act in a timely manner and notify your attorney as soon as possible regarding the circumstances that caused you to miss court. Now courts must provide 48 hours for you turn yourself in to avoid the issuance of a bench warrant.
There is an important exception to this new rule. If there is credible evidence that you willfully refused to appear for court, a warrant may still immediately be issued for your arrest. For example, if you made statements to a witness such as a court clerk that you did not intend to appear for court intentionally, the court may issue a bench warrant without the 48-hour waiting period.
If you expect you will miss court, contact your lawyer immediately. Many judges will not be sympathetic if you must miss court to work or have planned a vacation since court dates are typically scheduled well in advance. What you say to your attorney is confidential. It is much better for your lawyer to tell the court why you could not appear than to attempt to explain the situation on your own behalf after a bench warrant has already been issued.
Cash vs. Commercial Bonds
A bail bond may be cash or commercial. A cash bond must be paid in full, while a commercial bond is covered by a bail bondsman, and you pay a percentage of the full amount of the bond plus the bondsman’s fee to the bail bond company.
If you miss court, you could be charged with failure to appear, and a warrant will typically be issued for your arrest. If you do not appear at court to explain why you missed court, your bond could be forfeited.
Bail Bond Hearings
If you violate the conditions of your bond or miss court, the court will set a hearing regarding possible modification of your bail conditions or revocation. A hearing required before the court may revoke your bond and require you to stay in jail until your trial date.
A bail bond hearing is a chance for your defense lawyer to present evidence regarding any reasons you missed court. If you were in the hospital or were in jail for another offense, your attorney can present paperwork to the court to show that you had a reasonable excuse for failing to appear at your court date.
Bail Bond Modifications
If you violate a condition of your bond, an alternative to pre-trial detention is a bail bond modification. For example, if you miss court with no explanation, the conditions of your bond could be modified to require you to wear an electronic monitoring device to track your GPS location. The amount of your bond could also be increased.
Courts may impose requirements and restrictions like drug testing, no contact orders, orders for you not to leave the state and any other conditions that will make it more likely that you will appear for your next court date.
Consult a New York Defense Lawyer
Do you have questions about bail bonds in New York? Even if you missed court and do not have a good reason, our attorneys may be able to help keep you free on bond until your next court date. Having a skilled and experienced defense attorney on your side can make all the difference between being faced with strict conditions or jail versus being allowed to enjoy your freedom on your current bond. Contact our office to schedule a consultation for more information.