Here’s What You Need To Know About Failure To Appear in Colorado Courts
We’ve all been there – the alarm doesn’t go off, traffic is worse than expected, or you simply forget you had an important court date scheduled. While it’s tempting to think you can reschedule or that missing court just this once won’t matter. Nothing could be further from the truth. Fail to appear for a Colorado court hearing, and you can expect swift, severe consequences.
As your potential attorney, I want to have an open, honest discussion about why you must take your court dates seriously and what can happen if you don’t. My goal is to educate and empower you to make the right choices. The legal system doesn’t have to feel intimidating or punitive if you understand the rules of the game.
Important Information About Failure to Appear in Colorado
- Over 50,000 bench warrants were issued in Colorado in 2020 for failure to appear (Colorado Courts)
Failing to appear may result in a new charge of Violation of Bail bond conditions.
- Defendants who are out on bond or bail and fail to appear will forfeit their bail money under C.R.S. 16-4-109.
- Commercial bail bondsmen are allowed to apprehend and surrender defendants who failed to appear under C.R.S. 16-4-105.
- Judges can hold defendants who fail to appear in contempt of court and impose additional fines or jail time (C.R.C.P. 107).
- Mitigating factors like medical emergencies, lack of transportation, or not receiving notice may convince the court to withdraw a failure to appear warrant.
- Criminal defense lawyers can request new court dates and argue to get failure-to-appear warrants quashed.
Why You Can’t Afford to Skip Your Scheduled Court Appearance
Let’s start with why it’s so crucial to show up when the court demands it. There are two key reasons:
Failing to Follow Court Orders Has Serious Repercussions
Plain and simple, when a judge orders you to appear, you have to be there. Defying a court order shows blatant disrespect for the legal process. Few things frustrate a judge more than a no-show defendant. It throws off their entire schedule and wastes time they could spend on other cases. Judges take missed court dates very personally.
According to the Colorado Courts, over 50,000 bench warrants were issued statewide in 2020 for failure to appear. Clearly, judges have little patience for defendants who thumb their noses at the system.
No-Shows Display Disrespect and Disregard for the Legal System
Not only does skipping court show disrespect to the judge, but it also broadcasts a general disdain for the law. Prosecutors, court staff, and even jurors are put out when a defendant fails to show up. It disrupts the proceedings and inconveniences many. It sends the message that you can’t be bothered to participate in resolving your own legal issues.
This rightly or wrongly creates the perception that you are unreliable and unwilling to accept responsibility. That prevents the justice system from working smoothly and efficiently.
Consequences of Failing to Appear for Your Colorado Court Date
Now that we’ve established why you must attend all scheduled hearings let’s discuss what happens if you don’t. I want you to understand exactly what you’ll be facing so you can make smart choices. Here are the most common consequences of failing to appear:
Judge Can Immediately Issue a Bench Warrant for Your Arrest
The very first thing the judge will do if you don’t show up as scheduled is issue a warrant for your arrest. This bench warrant empowers law enforcement to take you into custody anywhere they find you within the state.
Bondsmen Will Be Notified to Find and Detain You
If you were released on a commercial bail bond, the bondsman has an incentive to hunt you down. The bonding company stands to lose big money if you fail to appear. Bondsmen may work with local police to locate and apprehend you. They can even cross state lines if necessary.
Law Enforcement Can Arrest You Anywhere With a Valid Warrant
With an active warrant, you can be arrested at home, at work, during a traffic stop – basically anytime and anywhere the police encounter you. The warrant will pop up during routine records checks. You’ll be detained and forced to deal with the outstanding charges.
Penalties Can Be Harsher Than Your Original Charge
A Charge of Violation of Bail Bond conditions can carries stiffer punishments than the crime you were initially charged with. Even if the new charge is a misdemeanor, potential penalties include hefty fines and jail time.
Your Bail Bond Will be Forfeited
If you were released on cash bail or through a bail bond agency, failing to appear means losing that money permanently. The court will take your cash deposit, and bondsmen will recoup the full value of the bond.
A Judge Can Hold You in Contempt of Court
Judges take failures to appear as a personal insult. Beyond issuing a warrant and adding charges, the judge can hit you with fines or even jail time for contempt of court. Contempt is considered an affront to the dignity of the court.
Fines or Jail Time Can Be Imposed for Contempt
The punishment for contempt depends on the circumstances but can potentially include thousands in fines and weeks or months behind bars – on top of your other charges.
Dismissals and Plea Deals Become Less Likely
Work with any criminal defense lawyer for long, and you’ll learn that many charges are dismissed or reduced through plea bargains. But if you fail to appear, the chances of getting charges dropped or pleading down plunge.
Prosecutors View Missed Court Dates as a Sign of Disrespect
To a DA, your absence shows you don’t take the charges seriously. Why should they do you any favors when you can’t be bothered to come to court? Any goodwill or leniency they may have offered vanishes when defendants are no-shows.
What To Do if You Miss a Court Date in Colorado
Nobody’s perfect. Perhaps an emergency or mix-up caused you to miss your court date unintentionally. Here are some options to limit the damage:
Contact a Criminal Defense Attorney Immediately
An experienced Colorado attorney can advise you on the next steps. They may be able to get a warrant quashed or a new court date scheduled promptly. Don’t let fear of punishment stop you from seeking counsel.
Legal Counsel Can Reschedule Hearings and Advocate for You
A lawyer can contact the court on your behalf to explain what happened and request a new appearance date. They’ll argue to withdraw any warrants and keep your case moving in a positive direction.
Notify the Court Clerk About Your Absence
If you don’t yet have an attorney, call the court clerk directly. Provide documentation of any emergency, like hospitalization, that prevented you from attending. Ask what you need to do to get back in compliance.
Provide Documentation of Any Emergency that Prevented Your Appearance
While oversleeping isn’t a valid excuse, the court may show leniency if you can prove an emergency like a health crisis or accident physically stopped you from appearing.
Voluntarily Appear as Soon as Possible
Show up at the next scheduled hearing, even if you missed the last one. Address the judge respectfully and explain your absence. Apologize sincerely for any inconvenience caused.
Offer an Explanation and Apology to the Judge
Judges have heard every excuse under the sun. Don’t make elaborate justifications. Keep it simple, take accountability, and emphasize that you want to resolve your case fairly going forward.
Consider Turning Yourself Into Authorities
If there’s already a warrant, surrendering promptly can help convince the court you’re now committed to addressing your charges responsibly. By voluntarily turning yourself in, you’ll signal respect for the legal process. The judge may withdraw the warrant and reinstate more favorable pretrial release terms.
Domestic Violence Charges and Penalties in Colorado
Especially for domestic violence arrests, it’s critical to appear in court. Colorado has strict laws that ramp up punishments for repeat DV offenses.
Felony Charges Can Result From Violent Acts or Repeat Offenses
While first or second DV convictions may be misdemeanors, felony charges apply for severe violence s. Strangulation, assault with a deadly weapon, or other aggravated acts can also trigger felonies.
Failure to Appear Can Lead to Harsher Punishment
With domestic violence cases, prosecutors and judges will come down hardest on defendants who skip court after being arrested. They’ll interpret it as continued disdain for the law and unwillingness to change abusive behaviors. Any sentencing leniency quickly evaporates.
Don’t Let a Missed Court Date Become a Bigger Problem
Being arrested is stressful enough without compounding matters by missing your court appearance. Savvy defendants take responsibility and follow the rules to resolve their cases favorably.
Act Responsibly and Promptly to Address Any Failure to Appear
If you accidentally miss a hearing, address it head-on. Make it right with the court instead of making the situation worse by dodging your obligations.
Understand the Serious Legal Consequences of Disregarding Your Obligations
Going to court when required may feel inconvenient or intimidating. But a short-term time investment could spare you massive long-term problems. Knowledge truly is power when it comes to navigating the criminal justice system.
The attorneys and staff at Right Law Group are here to support you through the process. If you have any concerns about an upcoming court date, reach out for guidance. We’re ready to discuss smart, customized strategies for tackling your unique criminal case. Don’t go through this alone – trust us to have your back so you can emerge in the best possible shape.
What happens if I miss my court date in Colorado?
If you miss a scheduled court date in Colorado, the judge will immediately issue a bench warrant for your arrest. This allows law enforcement to detain you anywhere they find you.
What should I do if I miss my court date for a misdemeanor in Colorado?
If you missed a court date for a misdemeanor, contact a criminal defense attorney right away. They can help get a new court date scheduled and may be able to get the warrant lifted. Be proactive in resolving the issue rather than waiting for the police to arrest you.
Get Help From A Local Castle Rock Criminal Defense Firm
Facing criminal charges? Don’t go through it alone.
The dedicated attorneys and staff at Right Law Group have the expertise and determination to stand with you and advocate for your rights. Collectively, our Castle Rock criminal defense attorneys boast decades of criminal law experience, including many years working within the justice system as former prosecutors and district attorneys.
We intimately understand both sides of criminal cases and use that insider knowledge to meticulously craft aggressive, effective defense strategies. Our firm has earned nearly 500 5-star reviews from satisfied clients who credit us with achieving favorable outcomes in their cases.
Right Law Group proudly provides discounts for military members and convenient office locations across the state to support clients statewide. If you or a loved one missed a court date or have upcoming court hearings, we have the resources and record of success to guide you through this challenging time. Don’t leave your future to chance—contact our compassionate, accomplished team today for skilled legal representation. With so much at stake, you deserve the very best defense.