If you were convicted for not showing up to court in Philadelphia, you are likely worried about the impending consequences of that conviction. When an individual does not appear for court, the case will not resolve itself. Instead, the court will likely issue a bench warrant for the defendant’s arrest. If you or a family member failed to appear in court for a criminal case, you should consult with an experienced Philadelphia preliminary arraignment lawyer. Knowing you may be arrested for skipping a court case is a frightening thought, but the legal team at the Law Offices of Lloyd Long are here for you. Our firm is here to explain your options if you are convicted for not making a court appearance in Philadelphia.
What Happens if You Miss a Court Appearance?
If you were scheduled to appear in court as a criminal defendant and you did not show up, the court will likely issue a bench warrant. A bench warrant is a court order from a judge that permits law enforcement to arrest you at any time. For example, if you drive through a red light and are stopped by police, they can arrest you on the spot if they learn of the bench warrant.
There are two types of warrants that can be issued in Philadelphia: normal bench warrants and judge-only bench warrants. A normal bench warrant is a warrant that is issued by the judge that is serving bench warrants on a particular day. A judge-only bench warrant is a warrant that can only be handled by the judge that issued it.
It is important to note that a bench warrant can also be issued for missing a probation interview or committing a probation violation.
If you are unsure about whether a bench warrant was issued after you missed a court appearance, you should contact an experienced lawyer. A Philadelphia criminal defense lawyer can help you look up whether you have a bench warrant and discuss options to have the bench warrant lifted.
How to Get a Bench Warrant Lifted
To get a bench warrant lifted, you will likely have to turn yourself in to law enforcement. After you turn yourself in, the court will arrange a date for a bench warrant hearing. Unfortunately, you can be held in police custody for up to 72 hours while waiting for a hearing, despite what type of case the bench warrant arose from. If you are forced to turn yourself in over the weekend or a holiday, you may have to wait longer than 72 hours.
The judge at the hearing will lift the bench warrant. However, after the warrant is lifted, you may have to deal with other penalties. For example, the bench warrant judge may hold you in contempt, and you may owe a fine or face up to six months in jail. Other penalties that can be imposed after missing a court appearance include having your bail forfeited and owing money to the city, or the revocation of your bail after being declared a flight risk. You could also have your driver’s license suspended.
It is wise to retain an attorney that can help you through a bench trial hearing, especially if you are involved in a serious criminal case. An attorney can ensure that you do not make unnecessary statements that could negatively impact your ongoing case.
One way to avoid penalties for missing a court date is to have a legitimate reason for failing to appear. For example, if you needed to address a serious medical condition on the day of your case, providing documentation of that procedure is important. However, every excuse will not be accepted. If you missed a court appearance because you went to work, this might not be a valid reason. This is why it is important to discuss your situation with a lawyer before you turn yourself over to the court. You may have options that can alleviate the penalties you may be given.
Our Philadelphia Criminal Defense Attorneys Can Help You Handle a Bench Warrant
If you or a family member is concerned about being arrested on a bench warrant, you should consult with an experienced felony defense attorney today. Criminal attorney Lloyd Long has over 10 years of experience dealing with a wide range of criminal cases, and he will use that knowledge to offer you the criminal defense that you deserve. The Law Offices of Lloyd Long will help you explore all viable options to help you receive a desirable outcome to your case. To schedule a free legal consultation to discuss your case, contact us at (215) 666-0381, or contact us online. We are available to you 24 hours a day.