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I missed my court date. How do I explain myself to the court?

If you are arrested and charged with certain offenses, like first-time DUI, the court may release you on bail while awaiting the outcome of your case. However, this is not an acquittal. Bail comes with certain conditions, and one of these involves appearing in court when you are required to do so. 

Failing to appear in court as required is a big deal. Depending on the circumstances of your case, you may face a range of consequences

So, exactly what happens when you miss court?

If you are not present in the courtroom when you should be, the judge will issue a Failure to Appear (FTA). What happens next largely depends on the nature of the original crime you were charged with. For instance, if you were charged with a serious crime like robbery, the police will actively look for you. But what if you have valid reasons for missing court?

Possible defenses for failure to appear

It’s important that you honor your court dates. If, however, something happens that makes this impossible, then you need to notify the court clerk or make your way to the court as soon as you possibly can so you can explain what happened. That said, here are two defenses that you can raise if you miss your court date:

You did not receive any notice – In order to appear, you must be made aware of your court dates. If you were never summoned, then you may not be charged with FTA. However, if you changed your address without notifying the court and, thus, missed the summon, then you cannot cite this defense. 

You were caught up in a last-minute emergency – The truth is you may never control everything around you at all times. If a genuine emergency comes up on your court date like hospitalization or death in the family, then you can have a credible defense. 

If you are out on bail, failing to appear in court when you are required to is not a good idea. If your reasons for missing court are valid, then you need to explore your defense options to avoid facing additional consequences.