In Illinois, failure to appear is a legal term used when someone doesn't show up for a criminal proceeding for which they’ve been summoned.
What Happens in Failure to Appear Cases in Chicago Courts?
Once you have missed an appointed court date, the judge in your case can issue a warrant for your arrest. In some cases (particularly if this is your first offense), your Chicago criminal defense lawyer may able to ask the judge to lift the warrant without forcing you to turn yourself in and spend time behind bars.
However, remember that you need to act quickly if you miss a court date. If police pick you up because you've had a warrant issued for your arrest, it can be more difficult to get the judge to understand your situation.
What if You Miss Several Court Dates?
Ideally, you'll show up to court when you're supposed to... but sometimes life gets in the way.
If your attorney can show the court that your failure to appear was the result of circumstances beyond your control, the judge may be able to understand.
That means you need to explain everything to your lawyer -- and that you have to be honest. From the judge's standpoint, nothing short of a genuine emergency should prevent you from appearing in court on your appointed date.
Warrants for Failure to Appear in Court
If you miss your court date, the judge can immediately issue a warrant for your arrest. If you're arrested without turning yourself in, the judge can automatically deny you the opportunity to post bail.
Why would a judge do this?
So he or she can be sure that you'll show up to your next court date.
What is a Bench Warrant?
You've probably heard the term bench warrant. Law enforcement officials call it that because it's issued directly by a judge (from the judge's bench). It's a written order authorizing a person's arrest for contempt or for committing some type of crime.
Police can even arrest you for a bench warrant during a routine traffic stop. They can arrest you while you're picking up your children from school, while you're at work, or any other time they see you.
Do You Have a Failure to Appear Warrant?
If a judge has issued a warrant for your arrest, it's usually a good idea to get in touch with a Chicago criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. Your lawyer can help you work your way through the legal system, and he may be able to explain your side of the story to the judge in your case.
Call us at 847-920-4540 right away for a free failure to appear case evaluation. We'll examine the circumstances and start building a strategy that helps you get the best possible outcome.