Failure To Appear In Court Hearings, Can It Send You To Jail?

Failure To Appear In Court Hearings, Can It Send You To Jail?

Originally Published July 01, 2020

Federal and state law can get quite complicated. For us regular civilians, the ins and outs of it all is an alien language. 

But don’t you worry. This article aims to simplify the technicalities of the law and terms like capias warrants.

SUMMONS VS. WARRANT

If there’s probable cause to believe that a defendant has committed an offense, the judge must issue a warrant of arrest to an officer who can execute it. Upon request of a government attorney, a summons may be ordered in place of a warrant. 

Both serve the same purpose, which is to charge someone with a criminal or traffic offense. 

Read here about more types of warrants

WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE TWO, YOU ASK?

It has to do with the time frame. 

When a warrant is executed, the officer must arrest the defendant and bring them before a magistrate judge without unnecessary delay.  

A summons must be in the same form as a warrant, except that the defendant must appear before a magistrate judge at a specific date and time. The defendant specified in a summons is not yet under arrest and can walk around freely before his court appearance.

You can read about it more thoroughly here

WHAT HAPPENS IF YOU FAIL TO APPEAR IN A COURT HEARING? 

If you don’t appear at the specified date and time of your court hearing, the judge can issue a capias warrant against you.

capias warrant is a legal writ that holds you in contempt against the court, which can land you in prison. In addition to your pending allegation, this warrant adds a new misdemeanor allegation to it. 

A capias warrant.

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU HAVE A WARRANT AGAINST YOU?

A few things can happen when you have a capias warrant against you.

  • It stops the pending case for which you were initially summoned. 
  • It suspends your driver’s license. 
  • It requires you to post a bond, your appearance, and a justifiable cause (for missing the hearing).

WHAT SHOULD YOU DO ABOUT A CAPIAS WARRANT AGAINST YOU?

The first thing you should do is contact a lawyer. Do not, under any circumstance, go to the court yourself. While you think this may be a proactive solution to your problem, it could further complicate things.

Most lawyers should be familiar with the process of quashing these types of warrants. But when selecting a lawyer for this case, it’s best to choose someone with plenty of experience in the matter. Another tip is to choose an attorney familiar with the issuing courthouse. As soon as you do that, you can file a motion to quash.

How quickly and smoothly you can quash your warrant depends on several things. These include the charge of your original case, your reason for missing the hearing, and the length of time the warrant’s been active. 

Depending on the charges in your original case, the court can automatically quash the warrant, make you post a bond or make a personal appearance in court. 

It’s not unheard of for summons to be sent to the wrong address or get lost in the mail. Usually, the court will automatically quash the warrant in those cases. Sometimes, they may also quash it immediately if you have a perfectly valid reason. Whatever the case may be, you should have an attorney present with you when appealing for the warrant.

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Author Terrence Tan Ting

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Terrence Tan Ting is an industrial engineer by profession but a full time writer by passion. He loves to write about a wide range of topics from many different industries thanks to his undying curiosity.

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