If I missed a court date, what are my options?

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If I missed a court date, what are my options?

I had a court date 4 months ago for a possession charge that I didn’t find out about until a week ago. I’m assuming I was found guilty but all I’ve received is a notice for a civil suit from the bondsman. I would really like to know what’s going on. Should I speak with a criminal law attoreny? In Dallas, TX.

Asked on September 14, 2011 under Criminal Law, Texas

Answers:

B.H.F., Member, Texas State Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

First, you probably weren't found guilty.  Criminal cases are different than civil cases.  A civil judgment can be entered against you without you being present.  However, you have to be present at least to pick a jury in a criminal case.  You can only be found guilty if you were in court for the pick of a jury and then ran off after that process started.  With that in mind, you need to get in touch with the bondsman to turn yourself in.  Texas has a "failure to appear" statute, which means that you can be charged with a new offense for not appearing.  If it was an accident, many courts will reinstate your bond if you explain the mix-up and work with your bondsman.  The longer your warrant is outstanding, the more it will look like you are absconding-- which means the less likely a judge will want to reinstate your bond.  If you have an attorney, they can also help you with this process.


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