When you have a court date, sometimes it's necessary to reschedule for various reasons. The court is under no obligation to grant your request, but you have the right to make the request. You must have a good reason or your request will be considered frivolous and will most likely be denied. Note that procedures differ from county to county and state to state. In criminal cases, it is best to show up on your court date and request a continuance. If you absolutely can't make it, have an attorney request a continuance for you.
Contact the Court
Contact the county court clerk. Look up the phone number to your county court clerk's office or find it on the internet. Remember this is the clerk to the court, not your county clerk who handles administrative matters for your county. If you found the clerk on the Internet, look for a FAQ or a self-help section and see if it gives you information about rescheduling your court date. California has a self-help section which gives information only on small claims court. Tucson Arizona gives information on traffic court dates. Each division has different rules. When you find them, pay careful attention to the time frames listed.
File the Paperwork
Complete the form noted in the FAQ or the one given to you when you call the clerk's office. In some cases you may just need a letter. Other courts may be more formal and require a particular form. In Cook County, for example, to request a different date for traffic court, you must go in person between 8 and 10 a.m., go to the Special Services desk and complete the form the clerk gives you. Your case is heard that day. You must go to the courtroom holding the motion call and wait until your name is called.
Get to Court Early on the Scheduled Date
Attend court on your scheduled date if it is a criminal case. If you are asking for a continuance, and you don't want to wait all day for your case to get called, go to court and get there a little early. When the court doors open, wait until the clerk sits down and is arranging his or her paperwork. Go to the clerk and explain that you only need a continuance and ask if your appearance could be moved up. If you are polite and respectful, they will most likely accommodate you.
Ask for a Continuance
When your name is called, wait until the judge addresses you. He may ask you if you are ready to proceed. At this point, you can ask the judge for a continuance. He will ask you for the reason. If you have a mandatory appearance somewhere else, or are required to work, or some other reasonable excuse, the judge may grant your continuance and set a new date right then. Be aware that judges are under no obligation to grant new court dates. If you don't show up in civil court, a default judgment could be entered against you.
Be sure your motion for a new date was approved and you have received written notice about it. If you don't show up in criminal court, a warrant will be issued for your arrest.