At Madigan and Scott, Inc., in Virginia, we understand that you may not take a traffic ticket too seriously, especially if you are a young person. You may just throw it in your glove compartment and forget about it or you may think that if you ignore it long enough it will just go away. In either case, however, if you forget or neglect to go to court on your appointed day, you could find yourself in big trouble.
As the Fairfax County District Court explains, when you fail to appear at your court hearing, the judge has two options: conduct your trial in your absence or issue a bench warrant for your arrest.
Trial in absentia
If the judge chooses to try your case even though you are not present in court, (s)he will listen to the testimony of the officer who issued you the traffic ticket, who is sure to be present. Based on the officer’s testimony, (s)he likely will find you guilty as charged and assess your fine and court costs, which are due within 30 calendar days.
If the judge chooses to issue a bench warrant, i.e., a warrant from his or her judicial bench, for your arrest because you failed to appear, this information goes into both the court computer system and that of law enforcement as well. This means that officers can arrest you whenever and wherever they find you.
While it is unlikely that officers will come to your home or workplace to arrest you because you failed to appear in court for your traffic ticket, such a result is possible. The more likely scenario, however, is that officers will pull you over and arrest you when they notice that your license plate is that of someone against whom an outstanding warrant exists. On top of your other problems at that point, such as a harsher penalty than you would have received had you pleaded guilty to the traffic charge, you could also lose your driving privileges until you dispose of the underlying ticket.
For more information, please visit this page of our website.