Failure to attend court is a serious criminal offence that could result in jail time and a criminal record. If you are arrested and charged with an offence it is of upmost importance that you hire a criminal lawyer to appear in court for you. If you are self-represented it is imperative that you remember your court dates as theses charges have serious implications. If you don’t appear in court (on your First Appearance or thereafter) a bench warrant may be ordered for your arrest with/without a charge of failure to attend court. This is a matter of police discretion. It is not uncommon for individuals to receive phone calls from the police advising them that there is a warrant out for their arrest as a result of a bench warrant. The police can either release from the station or take you to court for a bail hearing.
There is a statutory defence of “lawful excuse” contained in section 145(2). An individual who has exercised his/her due diligence but simply forgets their court date may be acquitted after trial. You should speak with a criminal lawyer immediately if you are facing this charge.
Failure to Attend court is a hybrid offence which means the crown can proceed by summary conviction or indictment. If the crown proceed summarily the maximum penalty is a $5,000 fine and/or 6 months in jail. If the crown proceeds by indictment the maximum sentence is two years in jail.