The thought of attending court is intimidating for many first-time offenders. The pressure of being asked questions, facing judges and a jury is so overwhelming that some defendants decide to skip their court date altogether. For others, the prospect of work, school, and other obligations keeps them from appearing in court. Regardless, ditching may seem like a good idea at the time, but it will come back to bite you. People who don't attend mandatory court dates usually end up with a bench warrant issued for their arrest, resulting in more time in court that they'll eventually have to spend and additional legal charges and penalties. So before deciding to skip out, you might want to read this article.
One thing you should remember is that failing to appear in court is a criminal offense in Pennsylvania. Some people refuse to show up because they think that the system will eventually forget about them or give up on their case. Of course, judges and prosecutors are busy people with numerous matters to pay attention to. Perhaps your case will be overlooked, especially if it's a minor crime like a traffic violation or trespassing, right? Wrong. Missing court will make your situation much worse than it was initially because you decided to not show up. Now, the judge will have to issue a bench warrant for your arrest.
A bench warrant is what it sounds like. It's a warrant for your arrest, but this order is issued by a judge from the “bench.” It is enforced like a regular warrant also. All law enforcement in the state will have access to this order, which means that any run-ins with them could lead to an arrest. If you're caught, you'll be held anywhere between one and three days before you have access to a hearing. The day of your hearing, your bench warrant will be lifted. But whether you'll be released or detained is entirely up to a judge. So, instead of attending court for your original charges that could have possibly been dismissed, you're left to face a new set of criminal charges.
If you have already failed to appear in court and have a bench warrant against you, your best bet is to contact a criminal defense attorney immediately. Your attorney will provide you with the ideal options for your situation. In some cases, missing court is acceptable. But you'll have to obtain documents to justify it. An attorney can help you figure out if your reason for missing is excusable or not.
Pennsylvania Criminal Defense Attorney
The bottom line is that if you're involved in the court system at all, you need the help of an experienced and skilled criminal defense attorney. Attorney Joseph D. Lento brings a wealth of experience to the table, as he's successfully handled numerous cases just like yours. But most importantly, his familiarity with the overall process can be a source of comfort for you in one of the most stressful times of your life. For more information about his representation or how he can help you, contact him online or by phone today at 215-535-5353.