Do I Have to Appear For Every Court Date?

file0001740917400-198x300A very common question I get from clients with criminal cases is whether they have to appear for every Court date. Earlier today I received a phone call from a prospective client who is facing a Possession of Stolen Motor Vehicle (PSMV) case in DuPage County. He informed me that he failed to appear for his last court date and the Judge issued a warrant for his arrest with a bond of $30,000. The prospective client asked if I could file a Motion in DuPage County to have the warrant vacated without him having to show up. He also wanted to know whether he would ever have to show up to court if he hired me. Apparently, the prospective client was recently hired for a new job and his employer is not allowing him to take any days off.

The short answer to the question of whether the client has to appear for every court date is yes. Unless excused by the Court, if you are facing criminal charges, you must appear for each and every court date. Just because you have hired your own lawyer does not mean that you do not need to show up for your Court dates. If a warrant for your arrest is issued by a Judge, it is not enough for your lawyer to appear in court on your behalf. In order for the case to continue, the warrant must be executed. This means that you must turn yourself in and appear in Court before a Judge. If you post the Bond, you will be released and given a Court date for your case. If you do not post the Bond, you will be held in custody in County Jail and given a court date for your case to continue.

When you are released on Bond, certain conditions are attached to your Bond. Just because the judge does not specifically tell you about them does not relieve you of your obligation to follow all of the conditions of your Bond. The conditions of your Bond will be spelled out in the paperwork that you are given when you are released from Court or the County Jail following the posting of a Bond. In most cases, the conditions of your Bond will be set forth on one sheet of paper. That piece of paper, which is commonly called a Bond Slip, will contain your name, the amount of your bond, and information regarding your court date, time, and Court location. In addition, your bond slip will have several paragraphs that are pre-printed on the form which will set forth conditions that apply to your release on Bond. If you look closely at your Bond Slip, you will see that you are required to appear for each and every Court date. A further condition of your Bond is that you cannot leave the jurisdiction without approval from the Court. This means that you cannot leave Illinois without approval of the Court. Another condition that applies to every criminal case is that you cannot commit any criminal offenses while you are out on Bond.

If you violate any of the conditions of your Bond, such as, not appearing for a court date, leaving the State of Illinois without Court approval, or getting arrested for another criminal offense while your case is pending and you are out on Bond, the prosecutor will inform the Court by filing a Petition to Revoke Bond, set a court date, and mail you notice to appear in Court to answer to the allegations that you violated your Bond.

If the Court determines that you violated your Bond, the Court can do anything from revoking your Bond, to increasing your Bond, to continuing your Bond without punishing you. If a Petition to Revoke your Bond is filed, you are entitled to a hearing before the Judge. However, you are not entitled to a have a jury determine whether you violated a Condition of Bond and the prosecution only needs to prove the violation by a preponderance of the evidence, which means more probably true than not true.

If you cannot appear for Court for a specific date, you should tell your lawyer about this before your attorney schedules your next Court date. If you need permission to travel out of state for a legitimate purpose, you should tell your lawyer as soon as possible so your lawyer can file a Motion and ask permission of the Court for you to leave the jurisdiction (State) while you are out on Bond. Courts are understanding and will give you permission if you ask and have a good reason for needing to travel out of state.

James Dimeas is a nationally-recognized, award-winning, criminal defense lawyer, with over-26 years of experience handling criminal cases in Chicago, Cook County, DuPage County, Kane County, and Lake County. James Dimeas is rated 10 “Superb) by AVVO, the highest rating possible for any criminal defense lawyer in the United States. The American Institute of Criminal Law Attorneys named James Dimeas a “10 Best Attorney for Client Satisfaction.” Attorney and Practice Magazine gave James Dimeas the “Top 10 Criminal Defense Attorney Award for Illinois.” The National Academy of Criminal Defense Attorneys gave James Dimeas the “Top 10 Attorney Award for the State of Illinois.” James Dimeas was named a “Best DUI Attorney.” Expertise named James Dimeas a “Best Criminal Defense Lawyer in Chicago.” The National Trial Lawyers named James Dimeas a “Top 100 Criminal Defense Trial Lawyer.” The American Institute of Legal Advocates named James Dimeas a “Top 100 Criminal Defense Lawyer in the State of Illinois For the year 2018 and 2019.”

If you are being charged with a crime you can always contact James Dimeas for a free and confidential consultation. You can always talk to James Dimeas personally by calling him at 847-807-7405.

Additional Blogs:

Can The Police Arrest Me Without Any Evidence in Illinois?, by James G. Dimeas, Chicago Criminal Lawyer Blog, June 3, 2017.

What is a “402 Conference” or a Pre-Trial Conference in Illinois? What it is and What You Need to Know, by James G. Dimeas, Chicago Criminal Lawyer Blog, June 10, 2017.