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Monday, December 21, 2009

I missed court what do I do?

I missed my court date, what can I do?

Was it criminal or civil? The answer makes a big difference.

If you missed your criminal court date a warrant generally has been issued for your arrest. If you get stopped by the police they will likely run you on the NCIC, the national Crime Information Center and find the warrant. You get a free ride to the pokey in silver bracelets.

You remain a guest of the window bar motel until you can be transported and appear in front of a Judge in the jurisdiction where you were to appear. In some cases where the crime is minor, you may be allowed to return upon your word or upon placing a personal recognizance bond, basically your assurance you will return. If the case is more serious, you may or may not be provided the chance to post a bond. In some cases the court will hold you in jail until your case is heard. In the alternative, if a bond is allowed, then you will be able to leave the jail when the bond is posted.

What to do? Sooner or later your number will come up. You will be discovered by the authorities and this process will occur. It is always better to face your consequence of your own volition than be dragged in hand cuffs in front of a judge. You look a lot more credible when you do it than when the county marches you in with your jail jump suit on and manacled.

Will you be arrested when you go into court? The answer to that depends. If you failed to appear on a minor traffic charge and you approach the court with the right circumstances you probably won’t be arrested. Instead, the court will quash the warrant you give you a new court date. In the alternative the court will issue a bond and allow you to pay the bond. However, in cases where the charges are serious, or when the judge got up on the wrong side of the bed, you are going to jail.

What to do? It is my recommendation you never go to court on a warrant for failure to appear alone. You need an attorney by your side who can argue your specific circumstances. Why did you miss the court date? Are you a run risk? What will compel you to remember to come to court next time? What are your community ties? Did you miss your date because you were running? All these arguments and more may become issues during your court appearance. A good attorney will argue your side of the case and the rest is up to the court.

I always advise my clients to be ready in the case the judge is not in a good mood. That means you should be ready with bond money so you can get out of jail as quickly as possible. This especially applies if you are in the country and undocumented. If you wait in jail too long you may end up with an immigration hold. My objective is to assist you in coming into compliance with U.S. laws and that process can be impeded if you are incarcerated in an INS holding facility.

The best policy is not miss your court date in the first place. If you do, contact an attorney and let him help you. There likely is a solution to your problem and legal counsel can make the entire process go more smoothly.

The advice I have given here is general in nature. Each case is unique. As a general rule, at least in Colorado, an attorney is of little help until you are in the system. Hence, I encourage you to get off of the run and into the system as quickly as you possibly can. However, you should

Tim Paynter is an attorney in Denver Colorado. He is an advocate of civil rights and fair treatment for all people. Please contact Mr. Paynter if you have a matter that you wish to discuss. The initial consultation is free of charge.

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