Whether your court date is due to a traffic ticket, a criminal violation or a divorce hearing, it is your obligation to show up and plead your case. Some people do so with an attorney, while others choose to speak for themselves. However, some people miss their court dates, either intentionally or unintentionally, and must face the consequences of their actions.
The violations that can send you to traffic court vary in severity and may or may not require your appearance. If the violation is considered to be minor, such as speeding, failure to stop or an illegal turn, you have the option of paying the ticket and skipping court. However, going to court in this case can help you reduce your consequences. If your offense is considered major, such as drunk driving, driving while suspended or fleeing an accident, you are required to be in court. Failure to show up in court can result in increased fines and license suspension.
When some people are charged with a criminal offense, they are held in jail until the court date, which prevents failure to appear. However, in other cases, you may be let out on bond or allowed to live at home until the court date. If you are released from jail pending a criminal court hearing and you do not show up for the court date, a warrant is issued for your arrest. After this warrant is issued, if you turn yourself in, it will be looked on more favorably than if you are arrested.
Civil Court as Petitioner
Civil matters are dealt with in a different manner than many other cases. In civil matters, such as divorce and small claims, you bring a complaint before the judge against another person. Sometimes, as the petitioner, you may miss the court date. In many cases, if you do not show up in court, the case is dismissed as the judge determines that if the court date was not important to you, the case was not important. If you are the petitioner and cannot make the court date, either hire a lawyer to appear in your stead or petition the court for a continuance.
Civil Court as Respondent
If someone brings a civil case against you before the court, you are notified of the court date and expected to attend, especially if you plan to contest the case. However, if you are the respondent and fail to come to the court hearing, the judge sees this as an admission on your part of your guilt and a sign that you agree with the petitioner's request. Unless you send someone in your stead or arrange for a continuance, the judge is likely to grant the petitioner everything that she is asking.