When appearing before a magistrate in court, arriving early and dressing well will grant you a good first impression. Attending court for the first time can be daunting, whether you’re a witness, prosecutor or defendant. But what happens if you don’t make it to court on the day you’re due to appear? Mental or physical illness are just two of many reasons that can cause you to miss your hearing. So what happens with a missed court date in Qld, and are there any legal punishments?
Why You Need to Appear In Court
Before explaining legal consequences around a missed court date, it is essential to understand why appearing in court is considered necessary in Qld. Courtrooms are instrumental in upholding and administering the law. If you’ve been summoned to a court, it is because you have information that could greatly affect the outcome of a case. Failing to appear as a victim, witness or defendant interferes with this process and wastes valuable time and state resources. Court hearings may be adjourned and moved to another date if a person is absent or, in rare cases, proceed onwards in the absence of a witness. If you have been subpoenaed and don’t attend, the consequences are serious.
Legal Consequences for a Missed Court Date in Qld
Whether you have been charged with an offence or you’re a witness to a case, and you miss your court date, you will need to explain why you failed to appear. If your reason is not adequate, then you will be punished. If this is your first time failing to appear for the Court, you will typically receive a fine. However, if you have a history of failing to attend court dates, you may be charged with failing to appear and face imprisonment.
Whether you’re an expert witness or a witness for the prosecution or defence, you will be subject to the same legal consequences for a missed court date in Qld. If you have been subpoenaed as a witness and fail to appear, you may be found guilty of contempt of court, and a warrant may be issued for your arrest. In rare cases, the Court may admit a tendered statement and proceed without the witness present.
If you have been summoned to serve as jury for a trial, you are required to attend by law. It is an offence not to attend court without a reasonable excuse, and you may be fined up to $1100 or face up to two months of imprisonment.
If you are on bail, and you do not appear for your court matter, your hearing will be adjourned to another date. In cases where a reasonable excuse can be provided, the magistrate may cancel a warrant for your arrest. If you do not provide a reasonable excuse, you will be charged with a further offence of Fail to Answer Bail, and an arrest warrant will be issued.
If you plead ‘not guilty’ to the charge of failing to appear, the matter will be adjourned for a hearing, and you may be granted bail or have your bail revoked. Once arrested and brought before the Court, you will have to convince the magistrate to grant you further bail. If your defence is not satisfactory, you will be convicted of breaching bail conditions.
In Queensland, you can be liable for a fine of up to $4,000 or sentenced to two years in prison for breach of bail or failing to appear in accordance with your bail undertaking. If you or your surety have promised a security amount to the State, it will not be refunded. Failing to appear will make it much harder for you to be granted bail in the future.
If you fail to appear for your court hearing, the court may dismiss your application, and you may be liable to pay the Minister’s costs. You can apply to the court to set aside a judgement made in your absence if you file an Application in a proceeding. You will also need to provide an Affidavit explaining your reasoning for being absent.
Protection Order Applicants
If you are applying for a domestic violence order and miss your first court appearance, your application may be dismissed. If this happens, you will need to file a new application for a protection order with the court.
Protection Order Respondents
On the condition that the police can prove you have been served papers, the magistrate may make a final domestic violence order, issue a warrant for your arrest or adjourn the application.
What Do I Do If I’ve Missed My Court Date in QLD?
If you’ve missed your court date in Qld, the first thing you should do is seek legal advice from qualified professionals. Criminal lawyers will provide you with advice and can accompany you to court to defend your absence. They will also contact the relevant courthouse to find out what happened.
Make sure to gather any documentation for why you did not attend, such as a medical certificate from your doctor. Lawyers may advise you to surrender yourself to the police or local courthouse as soon as possible if you know a warrant for your arrest has been issued.
How Can I Avoid A Missed Court Date on my Record
If you feel for any reason that you may not be able to make your court date, or you feel uncomfortable doing so, you should be aware of your options.
Arrange Someone To Look After Your Children
First, make sure that you are prepared to go to court on the date you’re due to appear. There is no childminding available in courts, and it is not appropriate to bring them with you if they have no other guardian present. Try to leave your children with a trusted friend, family member or arrange a babysitter for the date.
Manage Safety Concerns Ahead of Time
If you’re a victim appearing in court and feeling uncomfortable or unsafe, contact the court registry about your situation before you arrive. Some courts have safe rooms where you can enter and exit before and after your court appearance. You can also fill out a Domestic and Family Violence Safety form which will be handed out to security officers, domestic violence protection workers and other relevant members by court staff.
Request For Your Court Date to be Moved
You can apply to adjourn a magistrate’s hearing if you have sufficient reasons. Medical reasons, such as illness or important appointments are usually accepted by the court. Your request to adjourn can be approved on compassionate grounds or personal bereavement with supporting documentation. You must apply at least three days before the set court date.
Contact Guest Lawyers If You’ve Missed Your QLD Court Date
At Guest Lawyers, we specialise in all areas of criminal law. We can support you with honest and easy to understand legal advice to reduce the stress associated with attending court. We represent clients in the local, district courts and Supreme Court as well as the Court of Criminal Appeal throughout South-East Queensland. If you’re facing charges or have questions about criminal offences, traffic matters or legal matters such as bail applications, contact us today.