It was only a matter of time before the Coronavirus (known as Covid 19) pandemic hit the court systems in Northern Illinois. From Chicago to Joliet and from Waukegan to St Charles, every court system has been affected by the illness that has blanketed the United States and the World. If you have a court case presently in the system, finding your next court date is of the utmost importance. Here’s a quick guide to give you information about what may happen if you miss your court date and to help you find your next court date in nearby counties such as Cook, DuPage, Lake, Kane, McHenry, Will and Dekalb:
Why is it Important to Find Your Next Court Date?
If you’re the Plaintiff or Defendant in a Civil matter, such as a personal injury or a medical malpractice lawsuit, you have a lot on the line. As the Plaintiff in a case, you’re usually in the process of suing another party for money damages. You may need this money to pay your bills, to help you return to a normal life or to teach the other party a lesson for committing some harm to you or your family. But whatever the reason, you filed a lawsuit in the first place because you believed that you were wronged in some way.
What might happen if you miss a court date on your civil case? The answer is that your case may get dismissed (thrown out). If that happens, you may or may not be able to reinstate it and your ability to collect money damages may be lost forever. What if you’re the Defendant in a civil case and you’re being sued for money damages? Well, if you miss your court date, then you lose, and the Judge may award the other side damages that you’re going to be stuck with. Can a Judge undo this harm if you miss your date? The answer is maybe, and it depends. It’s best to never miss a date in the first place.
What if I Miss a Date on a Criminal or Traffic Case?
If on the other hand, you’ve got a court case because you’ve been charged with a criminal or traffic offense, the stakes may be even higher if you miss your assigned court date. When you miss a court date in a civil case, you may lose money. That’s bad, but when you fail to appear on a criminal or traffic case, you may lose your freedom or your driver’s license. Let’s take a look at some of the potential problems associated with missing such a date:
A Warrant May be Issued
Aside from the most minor of traffic tickets, local ordinances and municipal violations, criminal and traffic matters require your appearance. Period. If you don’t appear, the Prosecutor or State’s Attorney may ask for a warrant to be issued against you. Most of the time when that happens, the court does not send out any notification at all to let you know you have a warrant. This information is just put into the police computer (called LEADS for Law Enforcement Automated Data System) and word goes out to the police that you have an active warrant. Then, depending on how interested or motivated the police in your area are, they may come to your home or place of work and arrest you. Other times, they may just choose to wait until the next time that you have a police encounter (such as being pulled over for speeding) and then arrest you at that time. In any scenario, a warrant can cause you unnecessary embarrassment or even loss of employment and will appear on your Rap Sheet (Criminal record) forever, where it may come up during future background checks.
You Could Go to Jail
In some Illinois counties, if a Defendant fails to willfully show up to court for a trial, a trial may nevertheless be held in his or her absence. This is called a trial “in absentia” and although it’s every person’s right to be present at their own trial and to offer evidence in their own defense, under certain limited circumstances, a Defendant could miss his or her own trial and even be sentenced to jail in their absence. Clearly, this is yet another very serious consequence of failing to appear in court on a scheduled court date.
Our Attorneys Can Help You Find Your Next Court Date
The attorneys of Sexner & Associates LLC have been helping clients avoid jail, convictions and loss of driving privileges for over thirty years. In parts 2 and 3 of this blog which will be posted tomorrow and the following day, we’ll give you specific information about where to look and how to best find out your next court date if it’s been continued due to the Covid 19 outbreak. As always though, you can contact us at (800) 996-4824 or contact us online for a free consultation. Call today.