Legal Question in Criminal Law in Tennessee

I missed my court date and they puts bench warrent on my and I have another court date can I settle it then without going to jail

Asked on 7/24/13, 3:11 pm

1 Answer from Attorneys

My normal advice for clients who miss a court date (hey, it happens) is for them to RUN, don't walk, RUN to back to court the very next time the court/judge in on the bench. Have your case/docket number handy. Tell one of the court officers you need to speak to the judge. Eventually, you will be allowed up to the podium. Apologize to the judge for your failure to appear. If you have an explanation, tell him and show him the tow truck receipt where your car had broken down; show him the doctor's note from where you were in the emergency room when you should have been in court, etc.

Ideally, you may get back into court even before the clerk of the court has prepared the bench warrant/capias. They have a few days to do so. and if the paperwork hasn't even been done there is a very good chance the judge will simply excuse your absence.

If you don't have a good excuse, tell him that too. Again, emphasize that you rushed over as soon as you possibly could.

It will be up to the individual judge whether or not to excuse your failure to appear, but my experience in the 19th Judicial District is that if the defendant rushes back as soon as possible, the judge will often withdraw any bench warrant (capias/Failure to appear warrant) and simply assign them a new court date. At worse, the judge will decline your excuse and order you arrested on the warrant/capias, but that was going to happen anyway then next time you came into contact with law enforcement. Better to go into jail on your own terms, perhaps with a bail bondsman standing by. :-)

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Answered on 7/25/13, 1:16 pm

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