What Happens if You Fail to Appear in Court for a Traffic Ticket?

what happens if you fail to appear in court for a traffic ticketIf you have been cited for a traffic violation that requires you to appear in court, it is very important that you hire me and attend your court date.

However, what happens if you fail to appear in court for your traffic ticket?

The consequences of missing your court date vary depending on a number of factors, depending on the severity of the charge, whether the absence was intentional, and other aggravating or mitigating factors.

As a practicing traffic attorney, I have helped many clients with their traffic law issues and can help you navigate the legal process of traffic court in Virginia.

Find Out What Happened

If you miss your court date because of traffic problems, you slept in, a personal emergency, or any other cause, you can find out what happened with your case by going to the Clerk’s Office where your case is being heard.

To view your case status online, you can look at VACourts.gov on the Case Information page.

Most likely, you will see that the case was either tried in your absence or that a bench warrant is out for your arrest, depending on the severity of the traffic charges you face.

Knowing where you stand with the court is imperative when deciding what the best course of action is moving forward with your case.

Trial in Absence

For most minor traffic violations, if you miss your court date the judge will have a trial in your absence, almost always resulting in a guilty verdict.

This is usually the procedure for minor traffic violations, such as speeding. During a trial in absence, the judge will ask the police officer what happened during the traffic stop and the reasons for giving the traffic citation.

If the judge finds there is enough evidence for the ticket, the judge will find you guilty in your absence.

The court clerk will then mail the fine and court costs bill to the address listed in the summons to court.

It is important to note that a trial in absence does not happen if you pre-pay your ticket in lieu of coming to court, which is an option for minor infractions.

Pre-paying the tickets is an admission of guilt, and therefore the trial in absence is not necessary, nor is any court appearance whatsoever. You should not pre-pay your ticket if you wish to fight the charge in front of a judge.

Before committing to any course of action after being cited for a traffic violation, call me to discuss your legal options.

Felony or Serious Misdemeanor Traffic Cases

For more serious traffic violations, such as felony charges or serious misdemeanors, missing your court date can have far more severe consequences. If the charge you face comes with potential jail time, the court may order an arrest warrant, also known as a capias.

The arrest warrant is the first step in a new charge you could face: Failure to Appear. This comes with additional punishments on top of your traffic violation. If you miss your court date for a more serious traffic charge, you must turn yourself into local law enforcement.

However, it is vitally important that you contact me, an experienced traffic attorney, to help you.

In addition, I might be able to file a Motion to Withdraw the Bench Warrant or Failure to Appear Warrant if there was good cause for missing the original court hearing.

If that is not an option, I will be able to represent you at a bond hearing after turning yourself in for the arrest warrant, explaining to the court the reasons why you failed to show for your appearance.

A lawyer can also advise the best place and time to turn yourself into the authorities. Finally, an experienced traffic lawyer can advise you to your rights and explain the next steps in the legal process to resolve your case.

Options for Rehearing the Case

If you missed your traffic court date and the judge found you guilty in absence, it is not the end of the case. You have options to rehear your traffic case in Virginia.

The first option is to appeal the case. Under Virginia law, you have ten days from your original court date to appeal the hearing to the circuit court.

During an appeal, the case is reheard by a new judge in the circuit court, and you are given a new court date to attend. You do not need to list an excuse as to why you are appealing the case.

The second option to rehear your case is to file a Motion to Rehear within sixty days of the conviction in absence. This motion is presented to the traffic court judge, who has the discretion to approve or deny the motion.

You must give a valid reason in the motion as to why the judge should grant a rehearing of the case.

It is important to note that filing a Motion to Rehear does not toll the deadline on the right to appeal to the circuit court. Your right to appeal can be lost while waiting for the traffic judge to decide whether to grant your motion. I will be able to advise you on which is the better option for your case.

Call a Traffic Attorney Today

If you are facing traffic violations or missed your traffic court date in the Fredericksburg area, my law office may be able to help. Call now or contact me through my website, to schedule an appointment to discuss your traffic case today and figure out what the best options are for you moving forward.

Andrew Flusche

My name is Andrew Flusche. I am a traffic and misdemeanor defense lawyer in Virginia. I limit my practice to traffic tickets and misdemeanor defense, so I know the ins and outs of these offenses. I literally wrote the book on reckless driving in Virginia which you can get on Amazon here or download for free here. I opened my practice in 2008 after earning my Juris Doctor degree from the University of Virginia School of Law. Since then I have earned over 600 5-star reviews from happy clients on Google, Yelp, Facebook, and Avvo. If you’ve been charged with a misdemeanor offense in Virginia, please don’t hesitate to contact me. Your initial consultation is always free, and you'll talk directly with me about the details of your case.
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