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What should I do if I have a last minute emergency and can't attend a court date?

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What should I do if I have a last minute emergency and can't attend a court date?

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What should I do if I have a last minute emergency and can't attend a court date?
This question has an answer and 3 steps
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Reviewed: 
November 20, 2017
Answer

Some examples of a personal emergency that could prevent you from attending your court date are:

  • a car accident
  • a serious health issue
  • a death of an immediate family member

If there is no way you can go to court on the date scheduled:

  • tell duty counsel or your lawyer, or
  • get a friend or family member to go to court for you.

Your friend or family member can try to appear as your agent. They can explain your absence and ask for a discretionary bench warrant .

Rules about who can appear as your agent

The rules about who can appear in court for you, and how they must do that, depend on the type of offence. If you're unable to go to court on your court date, it's important that you find out what type of offence you've been charged with. See Step 3.

Missing your date

If you miss a court date and a lawyer does not attend for you, the judge or justice of the peace will likely order a bench warrant for your arrest. If this happens, you will be arrested and held for a bail hearing. You can also be charged with the criminal offence of failure to appear.

Sometimes when you miss a court date, the court orders a special kind of warrant called a discretionary bench warrant. With this type of warrant, the court adjourns your case to another date without ordering a bench warrant for your arrest. But if you miss your next court date, a bench warrant for your arrest will be ordered.

The court will be more likely to issue a discretionary bench warrant if your absence has been explained. If a discretionary bench warrant is ordered, the police will not arrest you. If you have to miss court, do everything you can to get a discretionary bench warrant instead of a bench warrant.

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