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Valid Reasons for Failure to Appear in Court



Failing to appear in court can lead to significant legal consequences, compounding the issues faced by individuals, even those initially released on bail. Courts typically dismiss many common excuses, potentially leading to additional charges and the need for a bail bond due to the failure to appear. This article aims to shed light on valid reasons for missing a court date and how they can impact your legal standing.

Why Common Excuses Often Fall Short

Excuses like oversleeping, forgetting the date, or dealing with personal errands, such as dropping a child off at school, are generally not considered valid by the court. These reasons are unlikely to mitigate the charges against you, making it crucial to understand what constitutes a legitimate excuse.

Identifying Valid Reasons for Missing Court

Recognizing and properly conveying valid reasons for missing a court appearance can potentially save you from additional legal complications. Below are some scenarios where the court may deem a failure to appear (FTA) justified:

1. Unpredictable Emergencies

Life can be unpredictable, and emergencies can arise at any moment. If a sudden crisis prevents you from notifying the court in time or attending your hearing, you might be excused from an FTA charge. For instance, a medical emergency requiring immediate hospitalization can be considered a valid reason.

2. Sudden Withdrawal of Legal Representation

If your legal representative withdraws their services shortly before your hearing, and you were unaware of this change, the court might excuse your absence. This exception applies if the withdrawal leaves you unprepared to attend the court session.

3. Lack of Hearing Notification

One of the most common valid excuses is not receiving a hearing notification from the court. If the court fails to send a notice, you cannot be held liable for missing the appearance. However, this excuse is only valid if the court did not send the notice, not if you failed to receive it due to personal reasons like a change of address.

4. Incarceration

If you are in jail or prison and cannot physically attend your court date, this may serve as a valid excuse. Informing the court of your incarceration is crucial.

5. Military Service

Active duty military personnel may have a legitimate reason for failing to appear. Providing evidence of deployment orders to the court is essential.

6. Subpoenaed in Another Court

Being required to attend another court proceeding simultaneously can serve as a plausible excuse. Providing a copy of the other subpoena or court order will be necessary.

7. Severe Weather or Natural Disasters

Extreme weather conditions or natural disasters like hurricanes or floods that prevent you from reaching the court could be considered valid reasons for your absence.

8. Transportation Issues

Significant, unavoidable transportation issues, such as a car breakdown on the way to court, might be taken into account by the court.

9. Caring for a Sick Dependent

If you are a caregiver for a seriously ill dependent and face a medical emergency with them on your court date, this might serve as a legitimate reason.

10. Court Error

If the court makes an error, such as scheduling your appearance on a date when the court is not open, this would likely be considered a valid excuse.

Excuses Typically Not Accepted by Courts

Understanding which excuses are generally not accepted by courts is equally important. Here are some reasons that usually won’t absolve you from an FTA charge:

  • Intentional Court Avoidance: Deliberately avoiding your court hearing will not be considered a legitimate excuse.
  • Forgetfulness: Simply forgetting your court date is not usually deemed a valid reason.
  • Previous Engagements: Missing court due to another appointment, whether personal or professional, is generally not accepted.
  • Employment Commitments: Work obligations during your court date are not typically considered valid excuses.
  • Unreceived Notice Due to Relocation: If you didn’t receive a court notice because you failed to update your address with the court, you will likely be held responsible.


While some excuses might seem reasonable, they are often not seen as appropriate legal justifications for an FTA. Consulting with a legal professional can help you understand your rights and responsibilities and mitigate the potential consequences of missing a court date. For more guidance on handling FTA charges and understanding valid reasons for missing a court appearance, contact Statewide Bail Bonds. We are here to help you navigate these complex legal situations with better insight and confidence.

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