How to Write a Letter to the Court for Missing Court

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There are many reasons why you might miss your court date, but none are acceptable to the court unless you're excused. Here's how to write an excuse letter.

There are dozens of legitimate reasons why you might miss your court date, but none of them are acceptable in the eyes of the court unless your excuse was an emergency and you have documentation. In that case, your lawyer can make a motion and you can present your excuse to the court. If you still can't come in person, such as if you have a serious illness and you can't leave the hospital, you may be asked to write a letter to the court to request a continuance, or a new court date.

The Introduction Formatting

You should always start your letter with your address and date. Then, type "The Honorable (Full name of judge), (Judge's title)" followed by a colon on another line. Finish the introduction information with the name of the court and the court's address.

Opening the Letter

Always start the letter with a respectful introduction, such as "Dear Judge (full name)" followed by a colon. Then, apologize for missing the court date. Give the court date and the docket number so the judge can identify your case. Make sure you explain the circumstances for missing your court date. Refer to any documentation that you have, such as a note from the hospital.

Closing the Letter and Things to Consider

Apologize again for the inconvenience and request another court date. Close the letter by typing "Respectfully," and skip three line spaces. Type your full name. Print the letter and sign above your typed name.

Give the letter to your lawyer. If she tells you to mail it directly to the court, use signature confirmation so you have proof that the court received your letter.


  • Always ask your lawyer or the court how to proceed before you write a letter. In criminal or traffic cases, if you miss your court date the judge will probably issue a warrant for your arrest and you may be asked to take additional steps, such as to turn yourself in and ask for bail before you can ask for a continuance.


About the Author

Natalie Smith is a technical writing professor specializing in medical writing localization and food writing. Her work has been published in technical journals, on several prominent cooking and nutrition websites, as well as books and conference proceedings. Smith has won two international research awards for her scholarship in intercultural medical writing, and holds a PhD in technical communication and rhetoric.