Will I be arrested if I missed my court date? 16 Answers as of May 04, 2011

I missed my court date a week ago because I didn't have the proof I enrolled in domestic violence classes. My instructor needed me to have at least all of the orientation fee before he would sign papers that I had started. It's been very hard to come up with the money but I did and have the papers I need. I have had a warrant now for about 3 days. If I go in tomorrow, what will happen? I am a single mother so I am very concerned because I am scared that if I have a warrant they'll arrest me anyways.

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The Law Offices of Gabriel Dorman
The Law Offices of Gabriel Dorman | Gabriel Dorman
Anytime you willfully fail to appear in court as ordered you run the risk of going to jail. Additionally, failure to comply with the terms of your probation (failing to enroll in your DV classes) is a violation of your probation that can also land you in jail. Your failure to appear in court only served to enhance the problem. If you really couldn't enroll because of financial issues, then the judge will most likely not give you a hard time about it. However, failing to appear was not the answer. So what do you now: 1) hire a lawyer to appear in court to recall the warrant and get you an extension of time to enroll in the DV classes or 2) appear in court by yourself ASAP and explain the situation to the court. I would suggest option 1. If, however, you choose option 2, you should try to get enrolled in the classes beforehand if possible. Also, be advised that the way most people get arrested on bench warrants is by being stopped for a traffic citation. So be careful if you are still driving. If your kids are with you when you are stopped, this will be a problem. I hope this answer was helpful. Good luck.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 5/4/2011
LynchLaw
LynchLaw | Michael Thomas Lynch
I don't know if you will be arrested, no one does, but you can be arrested if they issued an arrest warrant when you did not appear. Typically, at least in this county, if you show good faith by making an appearance to clear the warrant, and show up with completed paperwork, the court might exercise its discretion and recall the warrant. It would depend on many other factors such as if you have failed to appear in the past, and / or your criminal history.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 5/4/2011
Law Office of Evan E. Zelig
Law Office of Evan E. Zelig | Evan E. Zelig
When you miss a court date a failure to appear is generally entered and a bench warrant may be issued for your arrest. Whether they actually come to arrest you on the bench warrant will depend on the law enforcement agency, etc. However, usually a warrant will issue and if you are contacted by law enforcement (if they don't come to arrest you) then you will be arrested or cited to appear to resolve that matter. The best thing to do to avoid being arrested is to contact an attorney, or the public defenders office, and have the matter placed on calendar for you to clear the warrant and appear on the matter to resolve it.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 5/4/2011
Law Office of Tracey S. Sang
Law Office of Tracey S. Sang | Tracey Sang
The best case scenario is to talk to an attorney and have him or her go to court with you to have the warrant recalled. Chances are they will not take you into custody. However, if you leave the warrant out there you can be picked up at any time and then possibly be held until the case is resolved.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 5/4/2011
The Law Office of Harry E. Hudson, Jr.
The Law Office of Harry E. Hudson, Jr. | Harry E. Hudson, Jr.
Generally, if you show up, the court will not put you in custody. You should take the enrollment documents with you . Just tell the judge why you did not enroll sooner ( might take some proof of income with you), say you are sorry and that you now realize you probably should have appeared and explained the problem. But you were afraid.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 5/4/2011
    Law Office of Eric Sterkenburg
    Law Office of Eric Sterkenburg | Eric Sterkenburg
    Go to court as soon as you can. If you have contact with the police before going to court you will go to jail. Bring in all your papers be polite and sorry and you should be okay.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 5/4/2011
    Law Office of Geoffrey M. Yaryan
    Law Office of Geoffrey M. Yaryan | Geoffrey M. Yaryan
    If you appear in court before you are arrested you likely will not be remanded to custody.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 5/4/2011
    Law Office of Peter F. Goldscheider
    Law Office of Peter F. Goldscheider | Peter Goldscheider
    If you have the matter put on the calendar by the court clerk soon, you will likely not be taken into custody but nothing is certain. If you wait to be arrested however you will certainly be placed in jail. I would take the chance and go to court as soon as you can.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 5/4/2011
    Law Offices of Phil Hache
    Law Offices of Phil Hache | Phil Hache
    Well there is a chance they could take you into custody, and if you can afford it, I would recommend hiring an attorney to assist you. If that isn't possible, you are still better off handling this situation sooner as opposed to later. The longer you wait, the increased chance that there will be more serious consequences.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 5/3/2011
    Dennis Roberts, a P.C.
    Dennis Roberts, a P.C. | Dennis Roberts
    If you have a public defender let him/her deal with it. If you have paid whatever the DV classes want you should get a note from them and show it to the judge. He is not going to screw you around for being a few days late unless he is a total pig (as, unfortunately, most are).
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 5/3/2011
    Law Office of Joseph A. Katz
    Law Office of Joseph A. Katz | Joseph A. Katz
    Though it depends heavily upon your jurisdiction (what County your case will be heard in), you will almost certainly not be taken into custody. Calendar your case, take in several copies of your documents (one (or the originals) for the Court, one for the District Attorney, maybe one for the Probation Department... it depends how things are run where you are). The warrant will be recalled and quashed. You will be re-referred to the Domestic Violence program. Tell the Court you were trying, you were in constant contact with the program, but as a single, struggling mother, you just could not come up with the money in time.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 5/3/2011
    Law Office of Jeff Yeh
    Law Office of Jeff Yeh | Jeff Yeh
    Better to get an attorney, who can appear on your behalf (without you). The advantage of doing this is obvious; if you're not there, the Judge cannot take you in custody, at least not right then and there. This sounds like something that is relatively minor, since it only involves getting an extension, so the chance that an attorney can successfully recall the warrant and get the Judge to grand an extension is quite good.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 5/3/2011
    Alanna D. Coopersmith, Attorney at Law
    Alanna D. Coopersmith, Attorney at Law | Alanna D. Coopersmith
    The best thing to do is to go to the criminal clerk's window immediately. Bring your court documents with you. Tell them you missed court, and want to "add yourself to calendar" for bench warrant return and proof of enrollment in domestic violence class.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 5/3/2011
    Law Office of Andrew Roberts
    Law Office of Andrew Roberts | Andrew Stephen Roberts
    Be straight and honest with the judge. You enrolled and that is what is really important.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 5/3/2011
    Nelson & Lawless
    Nelson & Lawless | Terry Nelson
    Yes, there is now a warrant for your arrest. For you to handle this, you must turn yourself into the court, with or without an attorney, and try to negotiate a plea bargain on the warrant and new Failure to Appear charges, and renegotiate any outstanding charges. Doing so voluntarily will result in a better outcome than you being brought in cuffs to court after arrest on the warrant. That will happen if you come in contact with law enforcement or customs anywhere in the US.

    Effective plea-bargaining, using whatever legal defenses, facts and sympathies there may be, could possibly keep you out of jail/prison, or at least dramatically reduce it, and may enable you to get your probation and programs reinstated. If this is a felony, the defendant must be personally present at every court hearing and appearance. If this is a misdemeanor, the attorney can appear in court without the defendant being present, and any plea bargain deal could be handled by notarized paperwork. While this isn't a 'capital case', you certainly face potential jail and fines, so handle it right.

    Unless you're competent to effectively represent yourself in court against a professional prosecutor trying to put you in jail, most people hire an attorney who can. If serious about hiring counsel to help you in this, and if this is in SoCal courts, feel free to contact me.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 5/3/2011
    California Criminal Defense Center
    California Criminal Defense Center | Ardalon Fakhimi
    It is better to have an attorney appear in court on your behalf and provide an explanation to the court. If you hire a lawyer, it is very unlikely that you will have to personally appear if your case is a misdemeanor. If you cannot afford an attorney, you should go into court as the court will be much more lenient if you present yourself with your reason for missing the court date, versus to be arrested for the outstanding warrant.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 5/3/2011
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