If you have been charged with a felony or misdemeanor, you will have to go to court for arraignment. Depending on what happens during and after your arraignment, you may not need to go to court for trial if the case is dismissed.
What Happens if You Fail to Attend Court?
If you fail to attend a required court date, you can be charged with Failure to Appear (CA Penal Code 1320 & 1320.5). The judge will issue a bench warrant, and you will be arrested and brought to court. Failure to Appear can be a misdemeanor or felony, depending on what you were originally charged with.
As a misdemeanor, failing to show up at court can add six months in county jail and $1,000 in fines to the penalties you are already facing. As a felony, it can result in up to three years in prison and fines of up to $10,000, in addition to any penalties you receive in connection with the existing charges.
You cannot be taken to trial in court without first being charged with a crime and having an arraignment where you hear the charges against you and enter your plea.
How Long After Being Charged Does it Take to Go to Court?
Although you may (or may not) have been told the charges against you beforehand, technically you have not been charged with anything until your arraignment. From this point, you have a right to a speedy trial under both the Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and Article I, Section 15, of the California Constitution. You also have the ability to waive this right.
What is considered a speedy trial depends on whether you are being charged with a misdemeanor or felony, and whether you are held in custody between your arrest and arraignment.
How Long Does it Take to Get a Court Date For a Misdemeanor?
In the case of misdemeanor charges, you have a right to go to trial within 30 to 45 days of being formally charged. If you were held in custody after your arrest, your arraignment has to happen within 48 hours of the arrest. If you were released after the arrest, your trial must take place within about 10 days.
How Long Does it Take to Get a Court Date For a Felony?
For felony cases, you have the right to go to trial within 60 days of being charged. If you were released or bailed out after your arrest, it can take weeks or in some cases months to be formally charged at an arraignment. If you were held in custody, the arraignment must still happen within 48 hours.
What Happens at an Arraignment?
The arraignment is your first court appearance after getting arrested. At your arraignment, a judge will tell you what the charges against you are and what your constitutional rights are.
You will also respond to the charges by entering a plea, such as guilty or not guilty, although these are not the only pleas you can enter. After you have entered your plea, the judge will decide whether you should be held in jail until your trial.
At this stage, you can be released on your own recognizance until the date of the trial, or the judge can set a bail amount that must be posted for you to be released from jail, or they can refuse to set bail. This decision will be based on the nature of your charges and whether you are deemed a risk to the community, and whether you are deemed likely to run away.
The advice of an expert criminal defense attorney can help you reduce the amount of time you spend in jail while you are waiting for your arraignment and trial, as well as improve the outcomes of these court dates. If you have been charged, or are about to be charged, with an offense, contact us today for a free case analysis.