Few people who have long driven the public roadways in New Jersey avoid the inevitable traffic ticket, while many others face criminal charges for offenses ranging from simple assault to unlawful possession of a weapon. When your offense has a hearing date for appearance in court, you can significantly complicate your life if you miss the date and fail to appear. You could lose your license, pay increased fines, and suffer arrest. In addition, failing to appear for a court date often results in a warrant for your arrest. You may not even know about the arrest warrant until the police pull you over for a minor infraction, like a broken taillight on your car. Before you know it, an officer is booking you into jail while you await a judge’s determination of whether you stay there or get released before your trial date.
This nightmare can happen when you fail to appear for a Superior or Municipal Court hearing. While you may have a valid excuse for missing your court date, such as a serious illness, accident, or emergency that prevented you from coming to court, the judge presiding over your hearing does not know it. Thus, if you fail to appear, the judge may issue a warrant. Since you are legally required to appear in court for scheduled hearings, you must appear, or the judge may note that you failed to appear and issue a warrant for your arrest, especially for Superior Court criminal matters. The warrant for your arrest may stay open until the judge recalls, withdraws, or discharges it. And if the court re-schedules your case on the court calendar, you must then appear and explain why you failed to appear initially. However, if you appear in court without an attorney, you may find yourself having extreme difficulty when you try to explain why you missed court.
Can You Explain Failure to Appear for Court in NJ?
When you do appear before the judge, you must make your case for missing a scheduled hearing, preferably with an experienced criminal defense attorney who can advise what not to say and represent your interests. It is never excusable to miss a court date because you overslept, had a flat tire, never received notice of the hearing, forgot, could not get a babysitter, or had to work. The court takes priority, and you are obligated to keep the court informed of address changes so that the court clerk can notify you of important dates. However, when you miss court due to a legitimate emergency or circumstances beyond your control, like a natural disaster, the court can recall the warrant and place your matter back on the court’s calendar.
Failed to Appear for a Superior Court Date, Now What?
If you do not appear for a Superior Court date involving an indictable crime of the first, second, third, or fourth degree, you may be considered a risk for not showing up to future hearings in the criminal proceeding. And you will have several court dates to attend in the life of a typical criminal case. In failing to appear to one of those hearings, a judge can, upon the prosecutor’s motion, detain you pending your trial if they believe you are prone not to follow the law and therefore, may fail to appear at other hearings along the criminal case timeline of arraignment, pretrial hearings, and trial. That means you can spend time in jail since New Jersey eliminated release on bail payments pending trial. Plus, a failure to appear raises risk assessment concerns for the current case and future criminal complaints. Your criminal history follows you and can negatively affect the outcome of future cases, including stiffer penalties and fines in sentencing. In addition, with a failure to appear history, pretrial detention is more likely.
Missed a Municipal Court Appearance in NJ, What Happens?
The process is a little different in Municipal Court. For municipal court traffic violations or disorderly persons offenses, failure to show up to pay your ticket may result in a failure to appear notice in the mail. The notice informs you what to do next to rectify the situation. If you ignore the notice or it is deemed appropriate given the charges, the Municipal Court judge can issue a warrant for your arrest. In addition, a judge may report the failure to appear to the Division of Motor Vehicles within 30 days of the non-appearance and order your license suspended until you resolve the matter.
Whether your failure to appear occurred in Superior or Municipal court, you do not want to chance to get yourself arrested and detained in jail for weeks. Instead, find a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney to help you straighten out a failure to appear and consequent warrant for your arrest, suspension of your driving privileges, suspension of your car registration, or increased fines. You are ill-advised to appear before a judge without an experienced criminal defense lawyer on your side. Your lawyer can often persuade the judge to recall the warrant upon reassurance that you will appear for the remaining hearings. And if you can assure the judge that you are not a risk for other failures to appear, you might avoid a prosecutor’s motion for detention or, at least, have a lawyer to oppose the motion.
Who can Help with a Failure to Appear in Morris County NJ?
A failure to appear has severe consequences for pending criminal charges in New Jersey Superior Court or criminal, quasi-criminal, or traffic violations in Municipal Court. As such, hire an excellent criminal defense attorney to help you out of the mess. The odds of a second chance to gain the judge’s trust are better with a criminal lawyer who has handled many cases like yours in the past and continuously has success lifting and handling warrants statewide in NJ. Call 973-524-7238 for a free consultation regarding your failure to appear as soon as you receive notice or become aware that you missed a court date. The sooner you get the matter cleared up, the better the odds of not getting arrested when you least expect it. Whether it be a town in Morris County such as Dover, Morristown, Denville, Roxbury, Parsippany, or Hanover, or another community in surrounding New Jersey areas, connect for defense counsel’s assistance today.