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What To Do If You Miss Your Court Date

Don’t miss your court date. Here’s how to keep the court from issuing a warrant for your arrest because of a missed court date.

What To Do If You Miss Your Court Date

In the past, most courts would immediately issue a warrant for your arrest if you miss your court date.

Some courts now grant a continuance after a missed court date and send a letter to the defendant notifying them of their new court date. (You should not count on all courts doing this.)

If you can’t make it to your court date, call the court clerk to ask what their policy is so you will know whether they are going to issue an arrest warrant if you miss your court date.

You may be able to request a continuance over the phone, without having to appear in court to ask the judge for the continuance.

What Is A Continuance Of A Court Date?

A “Continuance” of your court date means the court has postponed your court date until the next time the municipality or county holds court.

The continuance may be granted by the judge in the courtroom, or sometimes the court clerk can grant a continuance over the phone prior to the court date.

FOR EXAMPLE:  If your court date is June 1st and you get a continuance, your new court date will be approximately 30 days later. The court clerk will tell you the new court date and you will be expected to appear in court on that date, unless you have hired an attorney to represent you.

Call The Court Clerk And Ask For A Continuance Of Your Court Date

Some courts allow the court clerk to grant a continuance to a defendant over the phone if it’s the first court date for this particular case.

Unfortunately, many courts have a policy of not granting continuances unless the defendant personally comes to court and asks the judge for a continuance of their court date.

You can call the court clerk and they will tell you what their policy is regarding continuances.

Go To Court And Ask The Judge For A Continuance Of Your Court Date

If you have already called the court clerk to request a continuance of your court date but they refused to grant it, your only other options are:

  • Go to court and ask the judge for a continuance, or
  • Hire an attorney to get a continuance and represent you for the underlying charges

If you go to court, the judge will tell you that you have the following options:

  • Plead guilty,
  • Plead not guilty, or
  • Request a continuance of your court date

If you ask the judge for a continuance of your court date so you will have more time to hire an attorney, the judge will give you a continuance, no questions asked. Judges want a defendant to have an attorney representing them if that’s what the defendant wants.

The continuance gives you time to consult with an attorney before the next court date and decide what you want to do. You can either hire an attorney to represent you or you can represent yourself.

Don’t Send Someone Else To Court To Ask The Judge For A Continuance

Some judges may be sympathetic if you miss a court date because you have to work or can’t find a babysitter. But in general, only the defendant or their attorney can appear in court and request a continuance of a defendant’s court date.

What To Do If You Are Afraid To Appear In Court Because Of Warrants

You could be arrested when you go to court if you have an active warrant issued by a different municipality for a separate issue. After being arrested, you will sit in jail in county/municipality #1 until the police from county/municipality #2 come and pick you up on the warrant and take you to their jail.

If you are afraid to show up for court because you have a warrant and don’t want to be arrested when you go to court, here are some options:

  • Turn yourself in to police and pay the bond. If you have no other warrants, the police will release you and give you a new court date. The bond is refundable if you don’t miss your court date.


  • Hire an attorney to lift the warrant and represent you for the underlying charges.

If you hire an attorney, you won’t have to turn yourself in to police or pay the bond. It’s very likely that you won’t have to appear in court at all if your case is just a traffic violation or a minor misdemeanor.

Hire An Attorney To Get A Continuance Of Your Court Date

If you have an upcoming court date and you can’t make it to court on that date, you can hire an attorney to handle the case for you.

Your attorney can request a continuance of your court date and represent you for the underlying charges. For a traffic ticket or other minor criminal offense, the most likely outcome is that the charge will be dismissed or reduced to a less serious offense.

FOR EXAMPLE:  If you want to fight a Missouri speeding ticket, an experienced attorney can get the ticket reduced to a non-moving, no-point violation such as “Illegal Parking.” If your ticket is reduced to “Illegal Parking,” no points will be added to your driving record and your car insurance rates won’t increase.

For misdemeanors like leaving the scene of an accident, shoplifting, or marijuana possession, your attorney may be able to get those charges dismissed or reduced to “Littering,” which will not show up on most standard criminal background checks.

Most criminal defense attorneys offer a free consultation and can give you a flat-fee price quote for how much they will charge to represent you, as well as an estimate of the outcome of your case.

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Andrea Rogers

With over 15 years of concentrated experience in Missouri traffic law and misdemeanors, Andrea Rogers of The Rogers Law Firm provides personalized, flat-fee legal services backed by a case outcome guarantee for every client she takes on across the state.