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What happens if I missed my court appearance?

If you missed a court appearance for whatever reason you should take immediate action to avoid being arrested.  If you fail to appear, the court will issue a warrant for your arrest.  You should, as soon as possible, have your attorney get your case back on the court's calendar.   The longer you wait to clear up a missed court appearance the greater the risk that you will get arrested and have bond increased or denied.

The court may not be interested in hearing why you missed court and you could even get arrested for showing up to court to try and clear up the missed court date. Many times, your attorney can appear on your behalf to remove a warrant so you will not have to spend time in jail waiting for your next court date. Contact an experienced East Bay criminal defense lawyer to handle a missed court date.

Common Causes of Missed Court Appearance

There are a number of possible reasons why you missed court. It may have been unavoidable or you never got notice of the court hearing. Common causes of missing a court appointment include:

  • Change of address and never received notice,
  • Court never sent a notice,
  • Forgot about the date,
  • Could not get childcare,
  • Could not get a ride to court,
  • Had school or work, or
  • Medical emergency.

Whatever the reason for missing court, it is up to you to clear up the issue.

What Happens if the Defendant is Not in Court   

If the defendant is not inside the courthouse when the case is called by the judge, the judge may issue a Failure to Appear (FTA). An FTA can result in a license suspension and a bench warrant. The DMV may suspend your license upon notice from the court for failure to appear. A bench warrant is a warrant for your arrest because of missing the court date.

The type of criminal charge may affect what happens next. If you had a court date for a traffic violation or minor infraction, it is not likely that the police will come knocking on your door. However, if you get pulled over by the police for any minor traffic violation, the police will see that you have an outstanding warrant and make an arrest.

The most common reaction would be to call or show up to the court after missing the date and explain what happened. Unfortunately, because there is a bench warrant for you, showing up to clear up the missed hearing may actually land you behind bars. A way to avoid this is by having your lawyer contact the court to get the warrant removed and schedule a new hearing date.

Contact the Court if You Cannot Make the Hearing  

If you know ahead of time that you will not be able to make the hearing because of a conflict, you should contact the court as soon as possible. You may be able to reschedule the hearing to a date and time where you will be able to attend.

Missed Court Appearance for Criminal Charges in Alameda County

Most court appearances for criminal charges in Alameda County will take place at one of the following courthouses:


661 Washington Street, 2nd Floor

Oakland, CA 94607

Phone: (510) 627-4702


39439 Paseo Padre Parkway

Fremont, CA 94538

Phone Number: (510) 818-7501


5151 Gleason Street

Dublin, CA  

Phone: (925) 227-6700


1225 Fallon Street, Room 107

Oakland, CA 94612

Phone: (510) 891-6009

Missed Court Appearance in Contra Costa County

Most criminal court hearings in Contra Costa County will take place at one of the following courthouses:


1020 Ward Street

Martinez, CA 94553

Phone: (925) 646-2986


100 37th Street

Richmond, CA 94805

Phone: (925) 646-4099


1000 Center Drive

Pittsburg, CA 94565

Phone: (925) 608-1000

East Bay Criminal Defense Attorney Lynn Gorelick

East Bay attorney Lynn Gorelick has more than 30 years of California criminal defense experience and has helped clients who missed their court dates and had a bench warrant or FTA. If you do not get a notice of court hearing, forgot about the hearing, or had an emergency and could not attend, contact Lynn Gorelick today for help to resolve a missed court date and challenge the criminal charges.

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