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What happens if I miss my court date for a criminal offence?
If you miss a court date, the justice of the peace or the judge will decide whether to:
- order a bench warrant for your arrest, or
- order a discretionary bench warrant and adjourn your matter.
Avoid missing your court date. If a bench warrant is ordered, the police can arrest you.
You can also be charged with the criminal offence of failure to appear.
Discretionary bench warrants
Sometimes the court will order a special kind of warrant called a discretionary bench warrant. When a discretionary bench warrant is ordered, the court adjourns your case in your absence without ordering a bench warrant for your arrest. If you go to your next court date, the discretionary bench warrant is cancelled. But if you miss your next court date, a bench warrant will be ordered to have you arrested.
The court will be more likely to issue a discretionary bench warrant if your absence has been explained. If you can't go to court on the date scheduled, ask duty counsel, or get a friend or family member to go to court for you to explain your absence.
What to do
If there's a bench warrant, you can:
If there's no bench warrant or a discretionary bench warrant has been ordered, ask the clerk for your next court date. Do not miss that court date. If you do, the court may order a bench warrant for your arrest.