The Perils of Disregarding Outstanding Warrants and Missed Court Dates

In March, hundreds of law agencies across Texas will start making arrests during the 10th Annual Great Texas Warrant Roundup. Authorities expect to clear more than 150,000 warrants statewide, primarily for Class C misdemeanors. Last year, 144,000 warrants were cleared in the annual roundup.

Texas residents with outstanding warrants had until March 5 to deal with those. If there is a warrant out for your arrest, the police can take you into custody anywhere, including at work.

There are two types of warrants:

Arrest warrant — if law enforcement has evidence you have committed a crime, they can obtain a warrant for your arrest from a judge. Once you’ve been arrested, you will be taken to jail until the arraignment or until bail can be arranged.

Bench warrant — if you miss a court date, a child support payment, or have violated any other court order, a judge will issue a bench warrant for your arrest. Once in custody, you could be put in jail until the court has a hearing on your case or you post bond and pay court fees.

Missing a court date

If you receive a court summons or notice to appear, this is an official order from the court to appear at a certain date and time. Ignoring the order can have several adverse consequences, including:

Bench warrant — the judge could issue a bench warrant for your arrest and hold you in jail until the hearing.

Jail sentence and fines — the judge could find you guilty of failure to appear or hold you in contempt of court, resulting in possible jail time and fines.

Nonrenewal of drivers’ license — the Texas Department of Public Safety may deny the renewal of your driver’s license if you fail to appear on a traffic violation or fail to pay the fine.

Bond revocation — if the judge did not require you to post bond for your case, he or she could impose a bond if you fail to appear. If you posted bond, that bond could be increased or revoked and you could be put in jail until your case is resolved.

Depending on your circumstances, there may be alternatives available instead of going to a jail. The court could allow you to appear at an arraignment rather than being arrested on a warrant or schedule a hearing before the arrest occurs. In addition, your attorney may be able to arrange for you to turn yourself in rather than being arrested.

Getting the advice of an experienced Texas criminal defense attorney is crucial if you have missed a court date or have a warrant issued for your arrest. This is the best way to help you stay out of jail.

The Cogdell Law Firm is a boutique law firm focusing on large, complex business and criminal financial-related litigation, including white collar criminal defense, securities fraud, health care fraud investigation, criminal appeals and state criminal defense. When results matter most, contact Dan Cogdell at (713) 426-2244 or