Why is it so important that I attend criminal court hearings?

Why is it so important that I attend criminal court hearings?

Criminal Defense Lawyer

Many attorneys focus on criminal defense but do practice in other areas. It is so often the case that we as attorneys forget to explain the important procedural aspects of each area of law to our clients. This is especially true when you have a client that you not only represent in a civil matter but also has their first case in the criminal courts. Civil clients are told on a regular basis that they do not have to be present for hearings or for any settings in the court where their case is assigned. This is because it is a civil proceeding. The rights and obligations of a party in a civil suit greatly differ from that of a criminal defendant and it is imperative that your client’s understand what is expected of them and why.

One would think that it goes without saying that a criminal defendant must be at every single court setting. I can not stress enough that you need to tell your client’s that. What is second nature to a seasoned attorney is not for a criminal defendant especially a first timer. The client may think it is okay to miss a court date. After all, they have hired an attorney to represent them so shouldn’t the attorney be allowed to check in for them? The answer is a resounding no. In fact, I have witnessed (and experienced) on several different occasions, a judge call the morning docket and (to my horror) do not hear my client respond when their name is called. Even though I am standing right in front of the judge announcing that I am present the words always come, “I am holding the bond insufficient and issuing a warrant for his/her arrest.” There is nothing your attorney can do for you at that point, except try to reach you and get you down to the courthouse before the morning docket is over.

Once the warrant is issued, several things can happen. You can be arrested if you are pulled over or even traveling. The more expedient and most likely to end in your favor method of handling an outstanding warrant is to immediately contact your Arlington, TX criminal defense lawyer and set up a day to go to the courthouse and “turn yourself in”. Why is this the most expedient? If you are arrested on a routine traffic stop, you may have to sit in jail for several weeks until the judge has you brought over to the courthouse to appear. If you turn yourself in, you can pick a time where you know the judge will be present in the courtroom. You can then offer any excuse for your absence at the last appearance and ask the judge to reinstate your bond. The most important thing to have with you is a copy of a letter from your bondsman stating that they are willing to stay on your bond. I can not stress enough that a criminal defendant or an attorney should not rely on the word of the bondsman that this letter was faxed to the court by the bond company. It very well may have but that does not mean it is in the file the day you arrive in court to deal with the outstanding warrant. Present your own copy to the judge. You as the attorney look prepared and the judge is sure to see that the letter exists and that the bond company is willing to stay on the bond.

It is important to stress that missing a court date can have fairly harsh consequences. There are several solutions to the outstanding warrant, however, none of them are easy or quick solutions. The best rule of thumb is to never be placed in this situation. Always show up to your court dates in the criminal court system on time. Of course, if you find yourself in this predicament, communicate with your attorney. They can’t fix something or help you if they do not know all of the facts.

 


 

Thank you to our friends and contributors at Brandy Austin Law Firm for their insight into criminal defense and importance of attending your criminal court hearings.

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