What happens if I miss a court date for a criminal case in Sarasota or Manatee?
Updated: Mar 22, 2020
If you miss a mandatory court date for a criminal case, a judge will likely issue a warrant for your arrest. There may, or may not, be a bond amount on the warrant. If there is a bond on the warrant, then you can bond out of jail (assuming you can afford to pay the bond). If there is no bond on the warrant, then you will not be able to bond out of jail. You will then have to request a bond hearing where an attorney can ask a judge to set a bond that you can afford, that will allow you to get out of jail.
The amount of bond that a judge may put on a warrant will depend on several factors:
What is the underlying charge? Is it a serious or minor offense?
A judge will often consider what crime you have been charged with and the facts alleged in the police report when deciding a bond amount. A judge may also hear argument from the prosecutor and defense attorney when deciding to set a bond.
Have you been charged with a misdemeanor or a felony?
Generally speaking, misdemeanor cases have smaller bonds associated with them than felony cases.
Have you missed court, or failed to appear for a court date, before?
If so, a judge may not issue a bond, or it may be a very high bond.
What court date did you miss?
If it is an arraignment or pretrial conference, the judge may or may not issue a bond. If it is a docket sounding or trial date, the judge will likely not issue a bond.
Call a criminal defense attorney if you are worried that you may miss a court date
A criminal lawyer can often waive your appearance for a court date so that you do not have to go. In Sarasota and Manatee counties, for both misdemeanors and felonies, the arraignment court dates can be waived. For misdemeanors, most pretrial conference court dates can be waived also. It is also possible to cancel felony case management court dates by filling out a trial stipulation in advance of case management. Docket sounding court dates will require an attorney filing a motion, before the docket sounding, requesting that your appearance be waived.
What if I have an emergency?
If you have an emergency, such as a medical issue or a death in the family, a criminal defense attorney can bring this to the attention of the judge before the court date and the judge may excuse your presence.
Failures to Appear go on your record
If you fail to appear for a court date, it will go on your record. If you are ever arrested again, a judge will know that you have failed to appear in the past and will consider this at your first appearance when deciding what amount of bond to set. In more serious cases, it is also possible that you can face additional charges for failing to appear.
Do not miss court!
It is never a good idea to not go to a court date. A good criminal defense attorney can often arrange things so that you do not have to go to court by waiving your appearance. Be sure to contact a reputable criminal lawyer if you are worried about going to court or are afraid that you may miss a court date.