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"What Happens if I Miss my Criminal or Traffic Court Date?"

Posted by Hunter & Hein, Attorneys at Law, PLLC, updated 03/24/2018


We often receive calls from people who have missed a court date for a criminal matter or traffic ticket.  The questions are typically: what is going to happen and what do I have to do to fix things?  Our Charlotte based criminal defense attorneys and traffic lawyers are well versed on the law and procedures when facing this situation in Mecklenburg and Cabarrus counties.  The basics are as follows:


When you miss a court date, there are a number of consequences you may face.  It all begins with a “Failure to Appear,” (also known as an “FTA”) being entered. A FTA will typically bring along with it a monetary fine, which will be an amount in addition to any fines or costs associated with the underlying criminal or traffic matter.  A FTA is also likely to result in your driving license being suspended.  Having your license suspended or revoked results in a flag on your license plate number, and will eventually lead to you being pulled over again if you continue to drive.  At this point, you are likely to be charged with Driving While License Revoked (DWLR), which is a class 3 misdemeanor, and another unpleasant possible consequence of missing a court date.  


A FTA on your record can also impact future bond hearings you may face, as a FTA will be viewed by the court as increasing the likelihood that you will miss future court dates. As such, having a FTA is likely to lead to an increase in the initial bond amount on future charges, and to reduce the likelihood of a judge “unsecuring” your bond (which means you will remain in jail until your court date unless you can or someone you know is able to bail you out).  Missing your court date can also result in your arrest. Depending on the underlying charge and the judge, an “Order for Arrest,” (or an “OFA”) may be entered when you miss a court date. 


So, what can be done to fix some of this mess once you’ve missed your court date? First, your case will need to be added back on to a court docket and set for a new court date. Once you have the new court date, you or your attorney (depending on the charge) must be present on that date to handle the charge(s). On the new court date, you can also request that the judge strike your FTA, the FTA fee, and the OFA (if one was issued). You must be aware, however, that if an OFA was issued, a deputy will arrest you unless the OFA is struck prior to the deputy issuing the OFA and completing your arrest. It is also important to know that the FTA and FTA fee must be struck, even if the charge is dismissed, in order to remove the suspension from your license.  Until this has happened, it is important that you refrain from driving (if you license has been suspended or revoked) to avoid being hit with the additional charge of DWLR.


Questions?  We can help. If you’ve missed a court date, call 704-412-1442 to speak to one of our traffic or criminal attorneys today.  We are well versed on the process of alleviating the impact of missing a court date.  


When facing criminal or traffic charges, it is important to talk to an experienced criminal defense or traffic attorney. Know your rights. We can help.  Call us today at 704-412-1442.  Our criminal and traffic lawyers frequently represent citizens facing criminal and traffic charges in Mecklenburg and Cabarrus counties, North Carolina. 

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Hunter & Hein, Attorneys at law, PLLC

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