You face serious consequences if you fail to appear at a court hearing in your criminal case in Virginia. The judge could issue a capias warrant, which is a warrant for your arrest for failure to appear, and you may face additional criminal charges. However, you may be able to avoid these harsh consequences if you take action quickly after your missed court hearing and retain an experienced criminal defense lawyer right away.
Penalties You Face for Failure to Appear at a Court Hearing
If a capias warrant is issued, you could be arrested at any time until you turn yourself into the police. Your bond may be revoked, which means that you may have to remain in jail until your criminal case is decided.
In addition, you could be charged with a separate offense for failing to appear at your court hearing under Virginia Code §19.2-128. This crime can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony. Here are the potential penalties you face:
- Misdemeanor. If you failed to attend a hearing in a DUI, reckless driving, or other misdemeanor case, you would be charged with a Class 1 misdemeanor. If convicted, you could be sentenced to up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $2,500.
- Felony. If you missed a court hearing in a felony criminal case, the charges against you would be more serious. You would be charged with a Class 6 felony punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine not to exceed $2,500.
Steps You Can Take to Avoid the Harsh Consequences You Face
If you miss your court hearing, you make your criminal case more complicated. In addition to facing additional charges, the judge could sentence you more harshly for the original crime you were accused of committing if you are convicted.
Taking prompt actions as soon as you realize you failed to appear in court can go a long way to avoiding these consequences. Here are two important steps you should take:
- Go to court or call the court clerk on the same day as your court hearing if at all possible. The judge could withdraw the bench warrant and schedule your court hearing for another day. Even if there is no longer a capias warrant for your arrest, you should plan to explain why you missed your hearing at your next court date.
- Call your lawyer if you have one or retain one immediately. If you have a good reason for not going to court, such as your car broke down or you had a medical emergency, you may be able to avoid being arrested or having additional charges brought against you.
Did you miss a court hearing in your criminal case? Are you facing criminal charges? Our knowledgeable criminal defense team is here to mount a strong defense for you so that the charges are dismissed or reduced to a less serious offense. Call our Norfolk office today to schedule a free consultation to learn how we can assist you.