2. Try to get the warrant cancelled

What happens if I miss my court date for a criminal offence?
This question has an answer and 4 steps

2. Try to get the warrant cancelled

If only a couple of days have passed since you missed court, you may be able to ask the court to cancel your bench warrant. This is called having the warrant rescinded.

Bring proof if you had an emergency

Go to the courthouse and ask to speak to duty counsel. Bring proof of the reason you missed court. For example, if you missed court because you were in the hospital, bring a letter from the hospital. Duty counsel will ask the court if they will agree to cancel your bench warrant. If your bench warrant is cancelled, you will be given your next court date.

If the court does not agree to cancel the warrant, you could be arrested at the courthouse and held by police until you have a bail hearing. It might be several days until you're released from jail. See Steps 3 and 4 for what happens when you turn yourself in.

Failure to appear charges

Even if your bench warrant is cancelled, the police might charge you with failure to appear. There could be a different warrant for that charge. Failure to appear is a different criminal offence than the one you were originally charged with.

If you are charged with failure to appear and you decide to take your case to trial, the Crown will use the bench warrant from your missed court date to try to prove the failure to appear charge.

The police may have already issued an arrest warrant for a failure to appear charge in addition to a bench warrant for your original charges. If this happens, ask duty counsel to help you negotiate with the Crown about having the charge withdrawn. Duty counsel can ask the Crown to bring the warrant into court to deal with it.

New court date

After the warrant is cancelled, you will be given a new court date. You must attend that court date. If you don't, the judge will order a new warrant for your arrest.

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Reviewed: November 20, 2017

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