Do I Have To Appear In Court?

Many clients call and ask if they are required to be in court, or if an attorney can appear for them.

In Illinois, if you were arrested for a crime, regardless of your guilt or innocence, you are required to appear in court. This is required whether or not you have a lawyer.

When you were let out of jail (or the police station) you are given a white piece of paper called a Bond Slip. This slip outlines the conditions of your release. One of those things is you must appear on your court dates.

If you fail to appear in court, a warrant can be issued for your arrest. The Sheriff's Department should then execute that warrant by tracking you down at places like your home or work and taking you into custody.

Many celebrity stories you read that they have court in other states and the attorneys appear for them to negotiate the case. This is not true in Illinois. Absent an Order from the judge, you are not allowed to miss court.

Practically this means you have to plan ahead. Canceled flights, cars that don't start, or important meetings are never excuses that trump your requirement to be in court. It's important to always talk to your lawyer ahead of time about potential conflicts you might have with upcoming court dates so she can work around them.

First court dates especially can cause difficulty since the client has no control over that date. Can you move a first court date? The short answer is almost always no. While it may be able to be moved, it is rarely in your best interest.

The caveat to this in Illinois is for minor tickets. In some instances, a notarized authorization for a certain lawyer to represent you may be accepted by the court if there is a genuine reason you cannot appear. This is never a guarantee and should be discussed with your lawyer and is on a case by case basis.

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