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What happens if I miss a court date in a Utah criminal case?

If you are miss a court date in a Utah criminal case, there are a number of consequences you may face. The most immediate consequences is usually the issuance of a bench warrant for your arrest

If you have missed a court date, contacting the court immediately to try to schedule a new hearing date with the judge can be important. But you need to be prepared to address the failure to appear once you get a new court hearing. An experienced criminal defense attorney can help you determine the best course of action.

Based in Salt Lake City, criminal lawyer Stephen Howard provides legal services to clients throughout Utah. Contact us today to arrange for an initial confidential consultation.

Will I be held in jail till the case is resolved?

If you fail to appear for a scheduled court hearing in a criminal case, most judges will immediately issue a bench warrant for your arrest. Often times, the bail on the warrant will be set at a higher amount than what was originally set in the case. In cases where a defendant has repeatedly missed court dates, the judge may issue a "no bail" warrant. If you are arrested and booked in jail on a "no bail" warrant or if you cannot afford to post the necessary bail, the court can hold you in jail until the case is resolved.

Will failing to appear in court affect the plea negotiations process?

Missing court can affect how you are viewed by the prosecutor during the plea negotiation process. In order to get the best possible plea offer, your attorney will need to give the prosecutor reasons to grant a lenient plea offer. In some cases, there may be factual or legal holes in the prosecutor's case that can be exploited and used to convince a prosecutor that taking the case to trial is too risky for the prosecution. In other cases, plea negotiations will focus on the defendant's conduct following the alleged crime. Did the defendant get involved in treatment or counseling? Did the defendant begin efforts to make restitution? Has the defendant taken steps to demonstrate that any necessary "course corrections" are being made in his or her life?

If you fail to appear in court without a valid excuse, you may make yourself look irresponsible. To some prosecutors, missing court may make it appear as though you are not taking the criminal charges seriously, and that you need to be "taught a lesson." In such circumstances, a prosecutor may be less willing to extend a favorable plea offer.

Will missing court change the sentence that the judge will impose?

While there is not a direct effect on the sentence, missing court can indirectly affect what the prosecutor will ask for or what the judge will impose as a sentence. One of many factors that can be considered in determining a sentence in a criminal case is how likely it is that the defendant will comply with the terms and conditions of probation if the court chooses to suspend a jail or prison term. If you have demonstrated to the court that you are not responsible enough to show up at your required court hearings, the judge may be less inclined to believe that you will be responsible enough to follow through with the court's orders and probation conditions.

If you have showng the court that you cannot be trusted to show up voluntarily to your court hearings, you may face an uphill battle in convincing the judge that you can be trusted with the privilege of probation.

Can the court hold a trial without me if I miss a court date?

Both the United States Constitution and Utah Constitution provide a criminal defendant with the right to be present at trial, to confront and cross-examine witnesses, and to participate with counsel in presenting a defense to the charges that have been filed by the prosecutor. But if a judge is convinced that you have voluntarily absented yourself from court at the time when your trial is scheduled, the court may proceed with a "trial in abstentia."

Having a trial conducted in your absence is often a quick route to a conviction. Constitutional protections given to criminal defendants include the right to testify on their own behalf. In some cases, the chief evidence to rebut the prosecution's allegations will come from the defendant's own testimony. If do not appear in court for your own trial, you cannot testify and the jury may not hear your side of the story.

Finding a Criminal Defense Attorney in Salt Lake City

Criminal Defense Lawyer Salt lake CityWhen you are facing criminal charges in Utah, coming to court on time needs to be a top priority. If unavoidable circumstances prevent you from appearing in court, you need to take steps to obtain documentation to verify and explain why you missed court. An experienced criminal defense attorney can help you determine the best course of action to take to clear the bench warrant and avoid the negative consequences that can come from missing court.

Based in Salt Lake City, Stephen Howard offers legal services to clients throughout Utah. Mr. Howard is an experienced criminal defense attorney, with a track record of achieving real results for his clients in felony and misdemeanor cases. For help clearing a bench warrant in Utah or in handling other criminal defense matters, contact us now for an initial consultation.

RELATED QUESTIONS:
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Serving Salt Lake, Davis, Weber, Utah, Cache, Tooele, Summit, Box Elder, and Wasatch Counties, and all of Utah.

Attorney Stephen Howard practices as part of the Canyons Law Group, LLC and Stephen W. Howard, PC.

Offices in Salt Lake and Davis Counties
560 South 300 East, Suite 200, Salt Lake City, UT 84111
952 S. Main St., Suite A, Layton, UT 84041

Call now to arrange for a confidential initial consultation with an experienced and effective Utah criminal defense lawyer.

In Salt Lake City, call 801-449-1409.
In Davis County, call 801-923-4345.

Stephen W. Howard, PC

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