What if I missed my court date? Warrants and returns.

Posted By Galluzzo & Arnone LLP || 8-Nov-2012

If you’ve been told to appear in court for a summons, Desk Appearance Ticket (“DAT”), or other criminal case, you can face serious consequences should you fail to appear on your scheduled court date. We advise that you retain an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately to help you repair the damage that has already been done. Below is a brief summary of some of the problems that you may have created by failing to appear.

Summonses

In the case of a summons (for example, a pink ticket for Disorderly Conduct returnable to 346 Broadway), if you fail to appear in summons court as instructed, the judge will most likely issue a summons warrant for your arrest. This warrant – commonly referred to as a “SAP” warrant – is entered into the warrant database available to law enforcement and the NYPD. Thus, should you ever come into contact with law enforcement, you outstanding SAP warrant is likely to be discovered and you will be handcuffed and hauled down to criminal court to answer for the original offense. Under those circumstances, you can spend hours in custody and the penalties could be much worse than they would have been had you simply attended court with an attorney on the original court date.

If you miss your court date in summons court for whatever reason, it is advisable that you consult an attorney so as to minimize or avoid having to be handcuffed and detained. Oftentimes an attorney can help in these circumstances, and may even be able to make a “return on the warrant” in your place without your attendance. If you or a loved one have missed your appearance in summons court and want to answer for the warrant that is probably outstanding, you should strongly consider retaining an experienced criminal defense attorney to help you.

Desk Appearance Tickets

People who are arrested, fingerprinted and given Desk Appearance Tickets (“DATs”) are in some ways fortunate; the alternative to a Desk Appearance Ticket is an evening spent in jail awaiting an arraignment. However, we find that many people that received Desk Appearance Tickets do not live in the New York City area, and their DAT return dates are very inconveniently timed. Under some circumstances, a person that has received a Desk Appearance Ticket can retain an attorney to appear such that the arrestee doesn’t have to appear himself for that return date. For more on this, click here.

However, should you fail to appear for the return date of your Desk Appearance Ticket or send an attorney in your place, the consequences can be far worse those for SAP warrants. Specifically, a criminal court warrant will be issued for your arrest, and officers from the local police department’s warrant squad may actively seek you out. They may arrest you at your home or your place of employment and simply haul you straightaway to court for your arraignment. In those cases, a criminal court judge is much more likely to set bail, as well. Thus, you could find yourself incarcerated for a much lengthier period of time than you should have otherwise expected had you simply appeared on your return date.

If you or a loved one have failed to appear on the return date of your Desk Appearance Ticket, you should strongly consider contacting an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately. You may also potentially face additional bail jumping charges, which are discussed below.

Criminal and Supreme Court Matters

If you fail to appear on a pending criminal matter, there could be serious consequences. If you have posted bail, the bail could be forfeited (meaning that you won’t be able to recover it). Also, if you used a bail bondsman, he will go looking for you and will be authorized to apprehend you and forcefully return you to court. Even in cases in which you were released on your own recognizance (or “ROR’d”), meaning that you were allowed to leave the courtroom without paying bail during the pendency of the case, a failure to appear on your scheduled court date could result in the criminal charge of bail jumping. Bail Jumping in the Third Degree (Penal Law Section 215.55) is a Class A misdemeanor, Bail Jumping in the Second Degree (Penal Law Section 215.56) is a Class E felony, and Bail Jumping in the First Degree is a Class D felony.

If you have failed to appear in court on a pending criminal case, you should seriously consider returning to court immediately with anexperienced criminal defense attorney.

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