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What Happens if You Fail to Appear in New Jersey Municipal or Criminal Court?

June 3, 2021 | Posted In Criminal Law |

When you have a court date in New Jersey, you are required to show up. If you don’t, you can face consequences based upon your failure to appear. These consequences can vary depending on the nature of the charge (or charges) against you and whether your case is pending in municipal or criminal court. However, regardless of the circumstances involved, you cannot simply ignore the fact that you missed your court date, and you will need to consult with a New Jersey criminal lawyer to determine what to do next.

Consequences of Failure to Appear in Municipal Court

The consequences of failing to appear in New Jersey municipal court vary for different types of cases:

Parking Tickets

If you fail to appear in municipal court for a parking ticket, the judge will issue a failure to appear notice. You will need to follow the instructions on the notice to preserve your right to defend yourself in court. If you fail to appear for more than one parking ticket, the judge can issue a bench warrant for your arrest. The judge will also notify Motor Vehicles and your license will be suspended. You will need to take additional steps (and pay a fee) to get your driver’s license restored.

Traffic Violations

In most cases, the judge will also issue a failure to appear notice when a defendant misses a court date for a traffic violation. However, the judge has the discretion to issue a bench warrant upon a defendant’s first failure to appear. Failing to appear in a traffic violation case can result in loss of driving privileges as well.

Other Municipal Court Cases

If you miss a court date for another type of municipal court case, the judge can issue a warrant and will also notify Motor Vehicles and your license will be suspended. Crucially, the judge can also allow your case to proceed in your absence. This means that you will forfeit your right to assert a defense, and it is highly likely that you will be found guilty of the offense (or offenses) with which you have been charged.

Consequences of Failure to Appear in Superior Court (Criminal Court)

Failing to appear in criminal court is another matter altogether. If you miss your court date, you can face a bench warrant and lose your driving privileges. Additionally, prosecutors can seek to file charges under New Jersey law. For instance, if you are facing trial for a fourth-degree indictable offense, you can be charged with an additional fourth-degree offense. Likewise, if you are facing trial for a third-degree offense or higher, you can face an additional third-degree charge.

These are not necessarily the only possible consequences of failing to appear in court in New Jersey. To make sure you understand all of the risks you are facing, you should consult with a New Jersey criminal lawyer promptly.

Do You Need to Talk To a New Jersey Criminal Lawyer?

Have you missed a court date in New Jersey municipal or criminal court? Call 877-435-6371 or contact us online to get a confidential consultation as soon as possible.

Over 20 attorneys at HCK have extensive experience in defending traffic and criminal cases as they were former assistant prosecutors and/or police officers for a combined total of over 600 years of law enforcement experience. You can find out more about them on our site, and you can call Managing Partner Ron Helmer on his cell phone at 609 685-0665.

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Helmer, Conley & Kasselman, P.A.

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