What Happens When You Don’t Show Up for Court?

Interior of an empty courtroom with gavel and sounding block on the desk.

A criminal defendant has a constitutional right to be present at all stages of the criminal proceeding. In addition to being a right, it is also a requirement. As a condition of a pre-trial bond, a criminal defendant is required to be present at all hearings, proceedings, and at trial.

What happens if you fail to appear at a criminal court proceeding? Most often, the judge will issue what is called a “capias” for your arrest. This is very similar to an arrest warrant. It permits any law enforcement officer anywhere to arrest you and place you in custody until you can be taken before the judge who issued the capias.

For example, if you fail to appear in court, and the judge issues a capias, then an entry is made into the nationwide National Crime Information Center database that shows a capias has been issued for your arrest. If you are pulled over in WV, or any other state, and the law enforcement officer runs an NCIC check on you, then you will be arrested and held until you can be taken before the court that issued the capias arrest warrant.

A capias arrest warrant can be rescinded or removed under certain circumstances. However, it is often very difficult to do so. That is why it is very important to always appear for court and stay in constant contact with your criminal defense attorney.

Contact The Moore Law Firm, PLLC online if you're in need of an experienced criminal defense attorney.