Nothing Good Comes of Failing to Show For A Court Date

Things happen. I know that sometimes, cars break down, urgent doctors’ appointments need to be made, things just slip peoples’ minds. But the consequences of failing to show for your criminal hearing can be dire. (The same holds true in immigration hearings, but with even greater consequences.) ┬áNot only will the judge issue a bench warrant for your arrest, which always happens at the most inconvenient times, but you could face additional charges for failing to appear.

I have had clients show up very late to trial when the prosecution was not ready. Normally in DC, when the prosecution is not ready for a misdemeanor trial, the case gets dismissed. It can be brought again, but that’s fairly rare. In one of those cases where the prosecution wasn’t ready but the client was (very) late, instead of the case being dismissed, as it certainly would have been, the client was “stepped back” (put into detention) until the rescheduled trial date, a consequence that was greater than what the client would likely have faced if found guilty. That was unfortunate.

2 Responses to Nothing Good Comes of Failing to Show For A Court Date

  1. I know the frustration. But part of the problem is that we ask defendants to get there at a certain time and then make them wait sometimes for hours before their case is called. They may not be so eager on getting there on time for the next listing. One way to reduce the wait would be to do what some judges already do informally; that is, stagger the cases scheduled for status. For example, you could do trial calls at 9:00 am, one set of status hearings at 10:00 am, and then another set of hearings at 11:00 am. Trials could then begin at noon.

    • I think that would be great – as it is now, it’s impossible to know beforehand whether there will be a lot of trial calls before your status hearing. I suspect that some judges keep the status hearings in with the trial calls so that when there is some reason to pass on a few trial calls (as often happens), there will be something for them to do.

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