Can You Reschedule a Court Date If You Miss It?
You have marked your calendar and prepared your case, but on the day of your court appearance, something unexpected comes up, and you absolutely cannot make it to the court. It’s natural to panic in this situation since showing up for a court date is a critical part of the legal process, and missing it may affect your case outcome.
To answer the question, yes, it is possible to reschedule your court date in Florida. However, it is not guaranteed. The decision to allow a rescheduling is entirely at the discretion of the judge presiding over your case. If, for some reason, you miss a court hearing date, you or your attorney must contact the court as soon as possible to explain the circumstances that led to your absence. The court will then decide whether your reasons are valid and whether to grant a rescheduling.
Before we explain how to arrange for another date, let us highlight the potential consequences of not showing up for a court hearing (or a missed court date).
What Happens If You Miss a Court Date in Florida?
Issuance of a bench warrant
Failure to appear in court is a crime in Florida and should not be taken lightly. Unless you contact the court in advance and let them know that you cannot attend the hearing because of a valid reason, a judge could issue a bench warrant for your arrest for missing court.
This warrant gives law enforcement authority to arrest you at any time, whether during a routine traffic stop or a visit to your home. For example, if you are pulled over for a minor traffic violation, the officer may run your name through their system, discover the warrant, and arrest you on the spot.
Additional criminal charges
Under Florida Statute 843.15, if you were out on bail and failed to appear before any court or judicial officer as required, it’s considered a criminal offense. If your original charge was a misdemeanor, the “Failure to Appear” will be considered a first-degree misdemeanor, for which you can face up to one year in jail and up to $1,000 in fines.
In case your original charge was a felony and you were awaiting a sentence or pending review, missing the court appearance will be considered a third-degree felony. The penalties for this can include up to five years in prison and up to $5,000 in fines.
Changes to bond
In Florida, when you are released on bond, you are essentially making a promise to the court that you will appear at all the hearings in your case. The bail money acts as a form of insurance to guarantee your appearance.
If you were released on bail bond and you fail to appear for the original court date, the court may forfeit your bond, meaning you or the person who posted the bond for you could lose that money. The court may also increase the bond amount if you are arrested on a bench warrant, making it more difficult for you to secure release before your rescheduled court dates.
In addition to the above repercussions, missing a hearing can make the judge think that you are unreliable or uncommitted to the legal process, which may influence their decision. This can be especially concerning if you are seeking leniency or a plea deal; the judge may be less inclined to grant it if you have a missed court appearance.
How to Reschedule a Court Date
As soon as you realize you have or are going to miss the court date, your criminal defense attorney needs to contact the office of the county court clerk where your case is being heard. If you are in Miami, this would be the Clerk of the Court office in Miami-Dade County; that’s the department that handles all the administrative tasks for the court, including scheduling.
When you contact the court, you will need to explain the reason for your failure to appear. Be honest and straightforward here. The court will consider your explanations when deciding whether to allow a rescheduling. In Florida, acceptable reasons might include a medical emergency, the death of a family member, or other unforeseen circumstances that prevented you from attending. That said, the final decision is up to the judge.
Your attorney may also need to file a motion to continue or a motion to set aside a bench warrant if one has been issued when asking the court for a new court date. If you don’t have an attorney yet, it’s highly recommended to hire one for this part because these motions are formal legal documents that must be prepared and filed in the proper way. The judge will review your motion and decide whether to grant it based on the specifics of your case as well as the circumstances that led you to miss the date.
Most importantly, if the court allows a rescheduling, make sure to attend the next court date at any cost. Missing another hearing can lead to much more severe consequences, including increased penalties for “Failure to Appear” and potential revocation of the bail or bond.
Get the Leading Criminal Defense Lawyers at Stroleny Law, P.A. on Your Side
With a deep understanding of the local legal landscape, our team at Stroleny Law, P.A. is led by the award-winning criminal defense attorney Julian Stroleny who has earned a reputation for relentless advocacy of his client’s rights. Julian is a former state prosecutor who has handled thousands of cases and knows the ins and outs of the criminal justice system in Florida. He is the tireless defender of your rights you want in your corner.
We understand that life doesn’t always go as planned, and sometimes those unexpected moments can lead you into a courtroom. When that happens, you want a tenacious legal team that not only understands the law but also understands your unique circumstances. If you have failed to attend court for any reason or are facing a criminal charge, reach out to us for your next step. We will leave no stone unturned to protect your rights.
Legal challenges don’t follow a 9-5 schedule, and neither do we. Call us at 786-481-4129 or contact us online anytime, day or night, for a free consultation.