By Defense Lawyer Carlos Gamino

Sometimes judges decide to let people pay money to get out of jail – as long as that person promises to show up for his or her court date. The money a person pays is like collateral; if the person doesn’t show up to court, the state keeps the money… and then issues a warrant for the person’s arrest. That means that when you bail yourself out of jail, you have two choices: You can show up for court and get your money back (minus the state’s fees), or you can fail to appear, lose your money, and get re-arrested anyway.

What Happens if You Fail to Appear in Court in Wisconsin?

Failure to appear will get you into serious trouble. The state will send the police to pick you up, stick you in jail, and keep you there until your court date. And because the police will be nice enough to give you a ride to court, the judge knows you’ll be there at the appointed date and time.

This type of arrest warrant is called a capias. It’s essentially a document that tells the police to pick you up. In fact, any officer who finds you is required to arrest you.

Related: What to do if a capias is issued for you

The police can arrest you from anywhere. It doesn’t matter whether you’re at your child’s school, at work, or even at your own wedding – when the police find out where you are (and they may be actively looking for you rather than waiting to bump into you on the street), they’re going to come get you. If a judge has issued a capias for you, it may be best to turn yourself in. If that’s what you’re considering, you should consult with an experienced Wisconsin criminal defense attorney to learn about your options.

Do You Need to Talk to a Lawyer Because You Missed Court?

You can – and should – call an attorney if you’ve missed court. (And no, we won’t turn you in.) That way, you’ll know exactly what you’re up against, and your attorney can determine the best course of action for you. Additionally, your attorney can defend you in court from that point forward, whether you’re facing consequences from failing to appear or being tried for the crime that put you in jail in the first place.

Carlos Gamino