What Happens If I Miss a Criminal Court Date in South Carolina?
At the David W. Martin Law Group, our criminal defense attorneys in Rock Hill know that life does not always go as planned, even when you have an approaching court date.
While our York County criminal lawyers may understand that family emergencies and other circumstances occur, missing a court date in South Carolina may end in significant penalties from the judge.
Here is what you need to know before failing to appear at a scheduled court date in South Carolina.
You May Be Found Guilty in Absentia
For legal issues that involve traffic violations or low-level misdemeanors, missing a court date could result in the judge finding you guilty, even if you are not in attendance.
The judge is not required to give you a second chance to tell your side of the story.
Instead, he or she can allow the case to proceed without you, which will typically end in you being found guilty. Being found guilty in your absence can often lead to fines and driver’s license suspension and, potentially a bench warrant being issued to serve a jail sentence.
The South Carolina Criminal Court Judge May Issue a Bench Warrant for Your Arrest
Whether you are facing a misdemeanor or felony charge, you must appear in court when it is required. Failing to do so may result in the judge issuing a bench warrant for your arrest.
That can mean law enforcement is notified to actively try to locate you and place you under arrest, or that the bench warrant stays in effect — visible to police during traffic stops or an arrest — until you appear before the judge.
This is a serious matter with grave consequences, as the judge can issue an order for you to be detained pending trial for the original charge. This means that you would be held in jail until the charges are completely resolved or the bench warrant is lifted by the judge.
Failing to Appear in a South Carolina Court Could Lead to Fines and Prison Time
When an individual has been released from jail on their own recognizance, or is out on bail after an arrest, willfully failing to appear in court following your release is a punishable offense under the South Carolina Code of Laws.
The penalties for failure to appear in a South Carolina criminal court may include:
- Up to a $1,000 fine and one year of imprisonment for a misdemeanor
- Up to a $5,000 fine and five years of imprisonment for a felony
With the help of a skilled criminal defense lawyer in Rock Hill, we may assist you in showing that you did not knowingly and intentionally fail to show up in court, thereby negating the “willful” requirement that leads to these penalties.
Contact Our Experienced Criminal Defense Attorneys in Rock Hill, South Carolina Today
If you have been charged with a crime in South Carolina, we can help you protect your freedom and your future by pursuing the best legal outcome for your unique charges by calling (803) 548-2468 or contacting us online today.
We are here to help you pursue actual results. Call us now to learn more.