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What Will Happen if I Don't Turn Up at Court?

By: Dave Howell - Updated: 15 Apr 2018 | comments*Discuss
 
What Will Happen If I Don't Turn Up At Court?

Q.

What would happen to me if I did not attend court as a witness? I have no evidence in the case and do not wish to go, it is only a minor case so could I get arrested or would I just get a fine?

(Mr ryan ward, 4 December 2008)

A.

The type of case you are involved in will determine what could happen if you don’t attend court as a witness. Even if you don’t think you have any evidence to give to the court, this isn’t your decision to make. The person that is bringing the court case will have a solicitor who will decide whether you should attend court to give whatever evidence they think you have that is pertinent to the case.

Generally speaking you should not have any serious consequences if you don’t actually attend the court. However, it may be the case that if you don’t attend and you have not informed the police or the PPS (Public Prosecution Service) that you won’t be attending, a witness summons may be issued. If this happens you are compelled to attend the court on the stated time and date. If you fail to attend the court after a witness summons has been issued, a warrant for your arrest would then be granted.

Also, making an excuse that you are ill for example is not good enough. You would have to produce a doctor’s medical certificate that states that you are not in a fit state to attend the court. If other events prevent you from attending court, you should let the court know as soon as possible. Depending on the seriousness of the case and how essential your evidence is, you may be excused attending.

Lastly, if you want to ensure that if you do not attend court you will not be prosecuted or arrested by the police, you can apply to the court for a decision on whether you do actually have to attend the court to give your evidence. Contact the court where the case is being heard for further details about how to make this application. Note that a fee is payable to gain this type of decision from the court. There is more information about going to court as a witness here and here. You will also find information on the HMCS (HM Courts Service) website including a number of leaflets that explain what to expect when being a witness in the different types of court you could be asked to attend.

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[Add a Comment]
@Babyboo - if you have a warrant out for your arrest it lasts until the police actually arrest you.
NickU - 20-Apr-18 @ 2:04 PM
Rach - Your Question:
I have been asked to go to court as a witness because my ex partner assaulted me. He has been charged with ABH. I keep ringing the police to drop the charges. They say it’s been put on file and someone will call me back but no one ever does. I don’t want to attend court. I just want to get on with my life. I haven’t received a summons as yet but what will happen if I don’t attend court? Will the charges just be dropped?

Our Response:
It is up to the CPS whether it wishes to drop charges. Just because you wish to drop the charges, doesn't mean the incident didn't occur and that your ex shouldn't be brought to justice for assaulting you. If your ex has been charged, then the CPS will gather as much evidence as it can to try to bring the matter to court.
CourtroomAdvice - 16-Apr-18 @ 11:24 AM
I have been asked to go to court as a witness because my ex partner assaulted me. He has been charged with ABH. I keep ringing the police to drop the charges. They say it’s been put on file and someone will call me back but no one ever does. I don’t want to attend court. I just want to get on with my life. I haven’t received a summons as yet but what will happen if I don’t attend court? Will the charges just be dropped?
Rach - 15-Apr-18 @ 8:48 PM
@Worried - you have to let the court or your solicitor know.
Mand - 10-Apr-18 @ 9:35 AM
I'm due to attend court tomorrow for trial on a summary offence in Scotland but I've been admitted to hospital after an accident. What can I do please as don't want to be arrested again?
Worried - 9-Apr-18 @ 11:38 AM
Ive been summoned to court if I don't go will the warrant for my arrest only be issues for the day or will it be an ongoing warrent
Babyboo - 6-Apr-18 @ 9:42 PM
Hello there, After my probation period was finished, I travelled out of the UK because of the prion experience I lived. I had a confiscation order on my head though, few months later I started receiving emails from CPS that I am under a warrant for arrest for not appearing to court to discuss payment for my confiscation. Clearly when I travel back to the UK i will be arrested and taken to the Magistrates Court, my question is; could there be a charge ( another case) for not appearing in court, when I genuinely did not receive the invitation letter to go to court as I let the country? or just discuss the confiscation matter. PS: I answered CPS by the confiscation unit by email and explained my self
Louis - 7-Mar-18 @ 6:45 PM
I have to go court in two weeks if my ex partner acausing me of asult and It was in self defence and she is the victim and she doesn't turn up do I go free? As it's my first court hearing. Also she keeps contacting me to contact her and she sayin she will drop charges but so far she aint if she doesn't wha happens at my first court hearing?? Please help
Jj - 23-Feb-18 @ 3:48 PM
My father has a court summons on Monday. He supposedly caused someone upset by muttering under his breath! The police have done a counterclaim on his behalf as she turned nasty on him! Anyway, he doesn’t feel well enough to attend court. (Recently had an operation and has cancer). We have written several times by post and email to the court. No response. Please tell me what happens if he doesn’t turn up. Thanks.
Sam - 3-Feb-18 @ 10:24 AM
I’m due to attend court as a witness. But I have recently been offered a position with the fire service. There is a possibility that the training will overlap the court date. Could I be excused from court?
Gary Hunter - 19-Jan-18 @ 3:03 PM
I have got court next week but a trial to go through I plead not guilty to assault but whiling to plead guilty to breach of the peace I never assaulted her but still got charged with assault and breach of the peace it's her word against mine but have next door as witnesses saying I assaulted her but only herd shouting and being charged with a domestic but she's not my partner or friend it was just a house party we were at. I think if they were charging me it should only be assaultand breach of the peacenot a domestic charge because I wasn't in a relationship with her. "Please comment " thanks Jimmy.
Jimmy - 19-Jan-18 @ 2:48 PM
Gary Hunter - Your Question:
I’m due to attend court as a witness. But I have recently been offered a position with the fire service. There is a possibility that the training will overlap the court date. Could I be excused from court?

Our Response:
Your new employer should allow you time out to court as a witness.
CourtroomAdvice - 19-Jan-18 @ 2:48 PM
I’m due to attend court as a witness. But I have recently been offered a position with the fire service. There is a possibility that the training will overlap the court date. Could I be excused from court?
Gary - 19-Jan-18 @ 7:50 AM
I have an out standing debt which i was taken to court for to get an attachement of earning. I have been summoned to appear in court, butno longer live in the uk. what will happen if i dont attend. will they issue a warrant for my arrest if so will i be arrested if i return to the uk?
shine - 16-Jan-18 @ 1:21 AM
I made a statement against ex boyfriend domestic violence and he has been charged with a court date I don't want to attend court what will happen if I don't turn up
Nat - 14-Jan-18 @ 9:20 PM
My partner has been accused off breach of non molestation order and court wants us to fight family vs family what will happen I don't want to go as I'm the main witness I no II will have a summons and I get legal aid what do you think will happen :(
MissyMoo - 5-Jan-18 @ 4:50 PM
Sud - Your Question:
I was caught by police for drinking in public place. I am have been put under Section-68, Punjab Excise Act-1OF1914. What will happen to me, as in its my first crime. I have been given a date to appear in court. How long will it take get bail/ permanent free & what will be the fine? I have not given any urine or blood sample.Reply asap

Our Response:
Unfortunately, we cannot answer your question as we are a UK-based site with knowledge only of UK-based law.
CourtroomAdvice - 4-Jan-18 @ 10:20 AM
I was caught by police for drinking in public place. I am have been put under Section-68, Punjab Excise Act-1OF1914. What will happen to me, as in its my first crime. I have been given a date to appear in court. How long will it take get bail/ permanent free & what will be the fine? I have not given any urine or blood sample. Reply asap
Sud - 3-Jan-18 @ 1:37 PM
I've been summons to attend a court 4:30hr away from my home lose days money for a small collision between two people in a parking space, what will happen if I don't attend, it is a county court. Just want to know if the fine will be greater than the loss, don't see it fair that this now costs me money and the 25 pound they have offered is not going to get me a quarter of the way there ??
Bob - 27-Dec-17 @ 1:40 PM
professor- Your Question:
My friend was charged with two sexual assaults on a woman and found guilty only on her evidence that was given by a theatrical emotional performance in the witness box. The only witness she called was her boyfriend who despite being 2 foot in front of her claimed he saw nothing but him walking past him with a plate of food.An appeal has been granted.She claimed that she was terrified of him and if she saw him would shake and cry.Three witnesses declared that she sat next to him on two occasions. Another witness said she saw nothing that he was being accused of. The later witness was not called to be a witness as were two other witnesses of the defendant. The defendant was told not to go on the witness stand as in the defense lawyers opinion no case to answer. The lawyer was drafted in at the last moment, as the original lady brief was not able to defend his case. No explanation was given. Four of his supporters and myself asked for this case to be adjourned as this brief had no knowledge of the case and he refused. He had trouble getting his electronic devices to work and muddled through the whole trial failing to ask or follow up important questions that would have halted the trial, as four important witnesses for the defendant would not be called. Is the defendant likely to win his appeal on this basis?

Our Response:
This is beyond our remit to advise. We could not possibly predict a court decision at appeal.
CourtroomAdvice - 13-Oct-17 @ 3:15 PM
My friend was charged with two sexual assaults on a woman and found guilty only on her evidence that was given by a theatrical emotional performance in the witness box. The only witness she called was her boyfriend who despite being 2 foot in front of her claimed he saw nothing but him walking past him with a plate of food. An appeal has been granted. She claimed that she was terrified of him and if she saw him would shake and cry. Three witnesses declared that she sat next to him on two occasions. Another witness said she saw nothing that he was being accused of. The later witness was not called to be a witness as were two other witnesses of the defendant. The defendant was told not to go on the witness stand as in the defense lawyers opinion no case to answer. The lawyer was drafted in at the last moment, as the original lady brief was not able to defend his case. No explanation was given. Four of his supporters and myself asked for this case to be adjourned as this brief had no knowledge of the case and he refused. He had trouble getting his electronic devices to work and muddled through the whole trial failing to ask or follow up important questions that would have halted the trial, as four important witnesses for the defendant would not be called. Is the defendant likely to win his appeal on this basis?
professor - 12-Oct-17 @ 9:26 PM
I've been summoned to appear in court tomorrow. Im definitely not going they can issue a warrant for my arrest if they wish. They still won't be able to make me speak when they take me there. I'm the witness of a cat accident but the man who it was lives near me and knows exactly where I live I'm scared for myself and my wife and young child on what he or his family will do. Who will pay for all the damages that I will incurre to my house and car? That will be me won't it? This is why I'm refusing to go.
Smithy - 9-Oct-17 @ 9:24 AM
Kd- Your Question:
Hi, I've been summonsed to crown court as a witness but am due to go on holiday. Is there anyone I can speak to to excuse myself from court? Do I speak to the court itself? Can the person I'm giving evidence for ask her solicitor to take me off as a witness? Also if I do not attend, what will happen after my arrest, can I be charged with something? Any help is greatly appreciated.

Our Response:
If you to have a prior commitment you can apply for your jury service to be deferred. You can only apply for this once and the deferment can only last for up to one year. You can also apply to be excluded from this current or future jury service. To do this you need to respond to the letter you were sent about your jury service from the Jury Central Summoning Bureau giving details about why you can’t be a member of a jury.
CourtroomAdvice - 31-Aug-17 @ 12:27 PM
Hi, I've been summonsed to crown court as a witness but am due to go on holiday. Is there anyone I can speak to to excuse myself from court? Do I speak to the court itself? Can the person I'm giving evidence for ask her solicitor to take me off as a witness? Also if I do not attend, what will happen after my arrest, can I be charged with something? Any help is greatly appreciated.
Kd - 29-Aug-17 @ 5:38 PM
I was due to appear in court on the 28th ov july 2017 but I email them to say I was on holiday and I even sent them proof ov holiday but they have issued a warrant of arrest for me
Betty - 7-Aug-17 @ 7:32 PM
Millsy - Your Question:
I haven't appeared as a witness for the second time as a witness to a drunken driver will I be prosecuted for not appearing???

Our Response:
As specified in the article, if you fail to attend the court after a witness summons has been issued, a warrant for your arrest would then be granted.
CourtroomAdvice - 31-Jul-17 @ 10:35 AM
I haven't appeared as a witness for the second time as a witness to a drunken driver will I be prosecuted for not appearing???
Millsy - 28-Jul-17 @ 10:08 AM
I spent 12 years employed as a police officer and was dismissed several months ago after a biased and corrupt misconduct hearing. Now, my force wants me to go to Crown Court to give evidence in a burglary case. As I don't want my name in the papers all over again (as this is severely affecting my employment prospects) where do I stand regarding a refusal to attend? Am I now treated as a normal public witness? Do I have the power to withdraw my statement?
BigG - 19-Jul-17 @ 1:23 PM
Macca - Your Question:
I have been advised I may need to attend a work tribunal. I have nothing yet apart from a solicitor saying it may happen. I am due to emigrate overseas next week. Can they expect me to return from half way around the world for a work tribunal. Would they accept a statement of events from me?

Our Response:
You should speak directly to your employer and/or solicitor regarding this. Much depends upon the reason for the tribunal.
CourtroomAdvice - 30-Jun-17 @ 3:14 PM
I have been advised I may need to attend a work tribunal. I have nothing yet apart from a solicitor saying it may happen. I am due to emigrate overseas next week. Can they expect me to return from half way around the world for a work tribunal. Would they accept a statement of events from me?
Macca - 27-Jun-17 @ 9:44 PM
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