What to do ifI didn’t appear for a DUI hearing?

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What to do ifI didn’t appear for a DUI hearing?

I received a DUI but had to relocate to another city in the state, so I missed my court date. I never went back to take care of it.  Now my husband is being relocated otof the country soon due to work. We have a family so I know I need to take care of this situation but I’m sure we cannot afford the cost of an attorney. Would a public defender still help me or what would my options be?

Asked on December 16, 2010 under Criminal Law, California

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Once you failed to appear ("FTA") in court, a bench warrant for your arrest would have been issued.  You will need to take care of this ASAP.  While officers may not have  tracked you down the warrant is very much in force.  This means that if you are stopped by the police for anything, even jaywalking, you will be taken into custody on the spot.  Additionally, an employment background check will turn this all up, so obtaining employment will be difficult, if not impossible.  And last, but certainly not least, you will almost certainly be arrested when you try to leave the country (or at the very least when you try a to enter another country).

The longer this goes on, the worse it will be for you.  What needs to be done now is for you to hire a DUI attorney that practices in the area of where the warrant was issued.  They can utilize their local contacts with the court to negotiate to your best advantage.  Remember, you have to deal not only with the FTA but also the underlying charge of DUI. 

Since money is an issue for you, see if you qualify for representation by Legal Aid (there are income requirements) or see if they can recommend someone to help you.  Also, check if there is a law school nearby to where the warrant would have been issued; they typically run free/low cost clinics that handle these type cases.  Finally, can contact the local Bar Association in the county where the proceedings will take place; it may have a list of attorneys who will take your case "pro bono" (for free) or at least for a reduced fee based on your income/circumstances. 


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