If you missed your court date for a misdemeanor charge, there may be a capias or bench warrant for your arrest. Normally, a judge will issue a bench warrant for failure to appear on a misdemeanor charge. For example, bench warrants can be issued for missing your court date for charges such as reckless driving, driving on a suspended license, DUI, or any other misdemeanor charge. If this happens, an officer may find you, arrest you, and take you to jail. An attorney can discuss with you the wisdom of turning yourself in. In many cases, a magistrate will let you out on bond if you turn yourself in, but this is not guaranteed. Normally after you turn yourself in, a judge will set a court date to revisit the original charge that you missed your court date for.
In some cases judges send people to jail for missing court. If you had a good reason for missing court, that may help you get a lighter penalty. A judge has a lot of discretion. If you missed court for a misdemeanor charge, your failure to appear charge will be a Class 1 misdemeanor under Virginia Code § 19.2-128 (C). If convicted, you can be given a maximum of one year in jail and up to $2,500 in fines. If you missed court for a felony offense, your failure to appear would be charged as a Class 6 felony.
Acting quickly can show good faith. If you realize that you missed your court date after the scheduled time but on the same business day, you should contact the court immediately. In Virginia Beach, if you made an effort to show up in court later the same day as you original court date, a judge may be able to recall the warrant and continue the original court hearing to a future date.
By not acting, you risk getting picked up at an inconvenient time. You also risk not being able to move on with your life. I have had clients experience trouble getting jobs, renting apartments, or attaining a driver’s license because of outstanding bench warrants for failure to appear in court.
If you are facing a “Failure to Appear” charge, please give me a call today for a free consultation. I can be reached at 757-932-0464.