What Happens When You Don’t Show Up to Court?

Hey, what’s up? I’m attorney Derek Gray of McMinn, Logan & Gray. We are a criminal law firm in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and this is our FAQ series.

So today’s topic is a little more general in nature, and the question goes like this: What happens if a witness does not show up in my criminal case

Typically, I like to refer to the law. Because there’s no specific law as to this, I’ll go ahead and reflect on my practical experience in the years that I’ve been practicing law. Let’s give a little hypothetical. Let’s say your neighbor takes out a criminal charge against you, you get to court, and he decides not to show up. What happens in that scenario? So, for purposes of the hypothetical, if your neighbor doesn’t show up and has been on a few times, the state will take a dismissal on that charge, or they’ll make a motion to continue. At that point, a judge could deny that motion and force them to take a dismissal on the charge.

Considerations by the Court

Here are the things that the court will consider in terms of whether or not to continue the case:

  • How many times has this case been continued?
  • Essentially, what’s the age of the case? To the extent that this case has some age on it, if it’s been continued multiple times, the court is less likely to allow it to continue without some finality.
  • Also, who of those continuances has been for?
  • Has the defense been making all the continuances? Or has the state been making all the continuances?
  • Is this witness necessary? Sometimes you have multiple parties that can testify to the same thing. So the state will be analyzing it from the point that they can still prosecute this case without the witness that isn’t present.
  • And lastly, is this type of case one in which subpoenas have been issued and served on the witness? Sometimes there have been some issues with the clerk’s office, and subpoenas may not get issued, or if they have been issued and served, that individual doesn’t show up. That will also put the state in a position where the court is less likely to continue it.

So those are the considerations. Again, there are a lot of different scenarios that could play out.

Experienced Winston-Salem Criminal Defense Attorney

But if you have any additional questions regarding whether a witness has to appear in court or a case in which you have a similar scenario, please do not hesitate to reach out to my law firm.

I would love to speak with you further about it at a free case review and see how I can help. Until then, guys, take care.

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Author Bio

Derek M. Gray

Derek Gray is a Partner of McMinn, Logan & Gray, a North Carolina criminal defense law firm. With more than 15 years of experience in criminal defense, he has zealously represented clients in various legal matters, including DUIs, misdemeanors, felonies, domestic violence, and other criminal charges.

Derek received his Juris Doctor from the North Carolina Central School of Law in 2007 and is a member of the North Carolina State Bar Association. With his experience as a former Assistant District Attorney, he has represented more than 1,000 criminal defense clients in North Carolina and received more than 100 5-star Google ratings.

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