If the police arrest you, take you to jail, and let you bond yourself out by paying money, you have to go back to court on your appointed court date.
But what happens if you don’t? Here’s what you need to know.
What if You Miss a Court Date?
The criminal justice system in Illinois lets some people bail themselves out of jail. People who pay bail money are paying it as a kind of promise; they’re saying, “Hang on to my money – I promise I’ll be back in court so you can give it back to me.”
However, some people don’t go back to court. There are plenty of things that could prevent someone from showing up in court on his or her appointed court date, such as not being able to find a ride or childcare, or forgetting or mixing up the dates.
If you have a court date, it’s incredibly important that you do everything you can to be there. If you don’t show up, you’ve committed a bond violation.
The law (720 ILCS 5/31-10) says that a bond violation results in forfeiture of bail. That means you lose the money you put up to get out of jail – and you aren’t going to get it back unless you can show the judge that you had a genuinely legitimate reason for not making it to court (like being in a car accident on your way to court and then stopping to rescue a dozen kittens from being hit by a bus).
But it’s worse than that. If you commit a bond violation, you’re guilty of committing a crime:
- If your bail was given in connection with a felony charge, you’re guilty of a felony of the next lower class. That means if you’re out on bond because you’ve been charged with a Class 3 felony, your bond violation is a Class 4 felony.
- If your bail was given in connection with a Class 4 misdemeanor charge, you’re guilty of the next lower crime classification, which is a Class A felony.
- If your bail was given in connection with a misdemeanor, you’re guilty of a misdemeanor of the next lower class. That means if you’re out on bond for a Class A misdemeanor offense, your bond violation is a Class B misdemeanor. The catch here is that at minimum, bond violation has to be a Class C misdemeanor – so if you’re out on bond for a Class C misdemeanor, your bond violation is also a Class C misdemeanor.
Do You Need to Talk to a Lawyer About Missing a Court Date?
If you missed a court date and are now facing a bond violation, we may be able to help you. (And if you have a court date coming up that you know you’re going to miss, we can help rearrange things for you, too. Even if you don’t decide to work with us, we encourage you to let the court know you won’t make it ahead of time. That way you can get a new court date and aren’t risking a bond violation.)
Call us at 847-920-4540 right now or fill out the form below. We’ll be happy to give you a free case review and answer your questions.