What Happens if You Fail to Appear in Court?

April 10, 2023   |   Manbir Sodhi   |  
What Happens if You Fail to Appear in Court
What Happens if You Fail to Appear in Court

What Happens if You Fail to Appear in Court?

When you have a date to appear in court, failing can result in criminal charges and possible prison time. If you miss your court appearance, it’s essential to take action to protect yourself from charges and arrest.

Manbir Sodhi Criminal Defence Law in Brampton, Ontario, can help you understand what happens if you fail to appear in court and guide you on what to do next. Having legal representation to advocate on your behalf can help you prevent further consequences and navigate the legal system.

Failing to Appear in Court

According to Section 145 of the Criminal Code of Canada, failing to appear in court refers to failing to submit a required fingerprint or missing your required appearance at an appointed court date. This section outlines the penalties for failing to appear in court, including the issuance of a bench arrest warrant and up to two years of jail time. Not appearing in court as required also makes it more challenging to prove your case, as it conveys disrespect to the judge and court system. 

Traffic Court Appearances

When you have a traffic violation that you don’t pay before your court date, you may be required to attend a traffic court hearing. Opting to pay the traffic fine before your court appearance means you plead guilty and relieves you from having to appear. However, if you fail to pay the traffic fines and appear at your court date, the judge can issue a warrant for your arrest and charge you additional criminal charges and fines.

Family Court Appearances

If you fail to appear for a family court hearing, the judge can dismiss the hearing, discard or reject claims, and make interim or final orders. In this case, the judge can even begin contempt proceedings without your presence. In addition, failing to appear in family court cases can allow the judge to issue an arrest warrant with jail time included.

Criminal Court Appearances

Missing a required criminal court appearance typically has more serious consequences and leads to arrests with more strict bail or holding requirements. If you face criminal charges in Canada and cannot appear on your court date, you can ask for an adjourned hearing to move the hearing date and avoid liability. Failing to appear in court or having your adjournment request denied in criminal cases causes the judge to issue an arrest warrant and adds more criminal charges to your case.

Lawful Excuses

A lawful excuse requires you to provide an approved reason for your absence to the judge handling your court appointment. Typically, approved reasons include hospitalizations and other serious situations. The judge and courts often require documentation proving your hospitalization or other situation at the hearing to verify your lawful excuse and relieve you of charges or warrants.

What to Do After Failing to Appear in Court

After missing your required court date, consider hiring representation to help you handle the charges and warrants that may result from your missed appearance. A lawyer can help you understand what happens if you fail to appear in court and can help you avoid further charges, issues, and fines.

Bench Warrants

When you don’t appear in court, the judge can issue a bench warrant for your arrest, which allows police officers to find and arrest you immediately. In some cases, the judge may issue a discretionary bench warrant instead, adjourning your court appearance to another day without immediately calling for your arrest. With a discretionary warrant, you have another chance to appear at your next court date without being arrested, but failing to show up for a second time can lead to your arrest and increased bail.

If you have a bench warrant issued under your name, you can contact a lawyer or legal counsel to check the warrants and attempt to cancel them. You can also call the courthouse and try to have the clerk cancel your warrant with a lawful excuse or other exemption. Having a legal representative check your warrant status protects you from being arrested in the courthouse.

Turning Yourself In

If you have a bench warrant for your arrest and can’t have it cancelled, turning yourself in at the police station often proves more effective than waiting for the police to pick you up. You can go to the police station or courthouse and give them your name and information, at this point, they may arrest you and hold you until your bail hearing. Make sure you bring any phone numbers or information necessary, as the police may take your personal belongings away from you during your arrest.

Hiring Counsel

Regardless of your reason and the type of court appointment, failing to appear can lead to you being arrested and charged. Having representation or counsel to represent your interests can help handle your charges and future hearings.

In addition, you can have your counsel appear for you at your initial court date to avoid the failure to appear in the first place. Legal counsel representation may only protect you from failure to appear charges in summary trials to have the hearing moved or delayed. 

Court and Legal Guidance From Manbir Sodhi Criminal Defence Law

The criminal defence lawyers at Manbir Sodhi, Criminal Defence Law in Brampton, ON, can help with the charges and consequences of failing to appear in court. You can contact a lawyer to guide and represent you through future hearings, questioning, trials, or arrests. Your lawyer can provide you with a detailed description of what happens if you fail to appear in court and can give legal advice to avoid arrest warrants.

Call Manbir Sodhi Criminal Defence Law in Brampton, ON, at 905-457-2546 for legal advice and representation. Request more information from a lawyer today.

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