If you have an upcoming court date, a summons or notice to appear should arrive in the mail with the date of your appearance noted. If you lose the summons or notice, there are ways to find the date online or by phone. Failure to show up for a court date can result in the forfeiture of your case, fines or arrest, depending on the reason for your court hearing. The first thing you should do if you can't remember your court date is contact your attorney. If you don't have an attorney, or if your attorney isn't responding to you, there are ways to find out that information yourself.
Information You'll Need to Find Your Court Date
First, you'll need to know what court is involved. If your hearing is in a criminal matter, it will typically be held in a court of your county or municipality. Similarly, if you have a civil case that's going to trial, it will also probably be in the county or municipality in which the incident occurred, where the parties live or where the businesses involved in the court hearing are located. If you have any documentation of the court case, the name of the court will be on those documents.
Once you know the jurisdiction of the court, locate the specific number of your case by looking at any of the documents you've received, including police reports, court documentation, tickets or other official notices. The case number format varies among jurisdictions. If you cannot find your case number, you can look up the case by your name, but it may take longer to do so since your last name may not be unique in your jurisdiction. Your case number, however, will be yours and yours only in your particular location.
Check Online for Your Court Date
Many courts have their dockets online, and sometimes their calendars are also available. To find your court date, visit the court's website and locate the docket search function, or even the court calendar. Dockets provide information about not only upcoming hearings but also the documents that have been filed in the case, including court orders. If you want to look at the documents, some courts require you to pay a fee per page, while others allow you to look for free.
If you have a federal court case, including a bankruptcy case, all dockets are available online at PACER.gov. You'll need a PACER account, and you'll be charged per page and per search. Every federal district court and every federal bankruptcy court keeps its dockets on PACER.
Read More: How to Look Up My Court Date Online
If You Still Can't Find the Date
You may not be able to look up your court date online because the information may not be available right away or because your county or city doesn't have an online docket. You can always call the court to ask a court clerk to look up your information, or you can go to the courthouse or the county clerk in person to find out what to do. They can't give you legal advice, but they can answer procedural questions, including questions about court dates. It is ultimately your responsibility to know when and where you need to be, but the court staff will assist you as much as they can.
Michelle Nati is an associate editor and writer who has reported on legal, criminal and government news for PasadenaNow.com and Complex Media. She holds a B.A. in Communications and English from Niagara University.