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.) Not 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.