What Will Happen If I Miss a Court Date?

Written by Thom Goolsby


Missing a court date is never a good idea, but it happens. You need to show up if at all possible before court concludes for the day. If you have a legitimate reason for not appearing in court at the scheduled time and date, you need to be proactive.

Tell your attorney ahead of time and we will try to re-schedule. If you don’t show up, it will only make your situation worse.

For a free consultation with Wilmington criminal defense lawyer Thom Goolsby, call (910) 763-3339 or text (910) 262-7401 or contact us online. We will quickly be in touch to speak with you.

The Penalties of Missing a Court Date in Wilmington, NC

Your arrest may be ordered if you fail to appear and there could be substantial additional fees assessed against you. If you are facing a motor vehicle offense, your driver’s license could be revoked and the North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles (NCDMV) may assess additional fees.

What Happens to my Bail or Bond?

If you are arrested, you have a right to have a judge or magistrate set conditions of pretrial release, known as “bail” or “bond,” at your “initial appearance.” To be released from custody, you may need to pay money or promise to pay it if you fail to appear in the future. This payment, or promise to pay, is meant to increase the chances you will appear for future court appearances.

If a cash bond was required and posted in your case, the bond may be forfeited if you do not show up on your court date. You may also need to pay the full amount to the court. This forfeiture could be recorded as a civil judgment against you. This means the State could collect the money just as if it was a successful plaintiff in a lawsuit.

If you fail to appear in a motor vehicle case, the North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles may issue a suspension notice and your license could be revoked.

If you posted bond with cash, the State may keep your money to pay for the judgment of forfeiture. If the bond was secured by property, but the forfeiture is not paid in full, the State could foreclose on the property and sell it to collect the outstanding amount owed.

If your bond was posted by a bail bondsman (a company who provides your cash bond for a fee), then the bail bondsman is liable for the full amount of the bond. He will immediately begin looking for you in order to take you into custody and turn you in to the local jail.

Depending on the language of the contract, you or your family may need to pay the bondsman additional money for your fail to appear. The bail bondsman will also hold you responsible for any money he must pay the State for your non-appearance.

Can Court Dates be Rescheduled or Continued?

If you are unable to appear, contact your attorney as soon as you learn of the conflict. If the proceedings are technical in nature or both sides are simply making arguments over a legal motion, you may not need to be present.

If you need to appear, but there is a severe problem preventing you from showing up, you need to tell us about it. It is the State’s policy that criminal cases and infractions should be resolved as quickly as possible. However, if there are compelling reasons for a continuance impacting the fundamental fairness of the legal process, a continuance may be granted for good cause for the fair and impartial administration of justice.

Work with a Wilmington, NC Defense Lawyer from the Beginning

Reach out to the Goolsby Law Firm if you are facing criminal charges or need to appear in a New Hanover County Court. Let us handle the court process and ensure you are kept informed.

Do NOT give up on your case or fail to defend yourself. You may have a valid defense resulting in a favorable outcome like a dismissal or an acquittal at trial. You are always best served by working with an experienced attorney.

For a free consultation with attorney Thom Goolsby, call (910) 763-3339 or text (910) 262-7401 or contact us online. We will quickly be in touch and speak with you.

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    212 Walnut St. Suite 100
    Wilmington, North Carolina 28401

    Like any quality criminal defense attorney, Thom Goolsby may be in court when you first call, but leave a voice mail or send a text. We’ll get with you as soon as possible, so we can go over what happened, evaluate the case, and explain what comes next.