Clarity Law

Specialist Criminal Law Firm Queensland
Monday, 05 June 2023 12:39

What do I do when I have missed my court date!

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Missed Court


If you have missed a court date there will more than likely be a warrant out for your arrest.

If you believe that you may have a warrant issued for your arrest, you can contact the court and check and if a warrant was issued then surrender yourself to the court. Do not wait to be arrested.

If you are arrested, then you will likely face a charge of fail to appear in accordance with an undertaking (if you were on bail) which likely will trigger the revocation of your bail and put you in a ‘show cause’ position.

Surrendering yourself to the court will result in a better outcome than if you were arrested and brought before the court.


How do I surrender?

If you are going to surrender yourself. It is best to do this first thing in the morning as, if you attend late in the afternoon, you may be kept in the watchhouse overnight until the police and court can process you and allocate you a new court date. There is of course the risk that the police could arrest you if you wait and take you to the watchhouse overnight anyway.

You surrender yourself by appearing at the registry of the court. There you advise them that you missed your court date and need to surrender yourself. As both the court house and the Police are involved in the process it can be a lengthy period, taking on average 1-2 hours for your file to be brought to the attention of the court. The court may wait until it has dealt with the represented matters first, and then the unrepresented matters.

The court will want to hear your reasons for not appearing in court, and will ask you what you want to do with your matter. The court will want to know if you are pleading guilty, wanting to adjourn the matter for legal advice or challenge the offence.

There is no requirement to surrender to the court that has issued the warrant, this is clearly expressed in the Police Powers and Responsibilities Act 2000, section 389(4). This section states if a person appears voluntarily before a court after the warrant is issued, any justice may revoke the warrant however some court registries take a different view and may seek to tell you that you cannot surrender in their court and must at the court that issued the warrant.


Why should I get a lawyer to surrender me?

The above process, seems simple enough to do – which may cause a person to think, why should I pay a lawyer to help. This ultimately, will depend on the circumstances. For serious offences, or where a person has a history of failing to appear then having a lawyer appear for you is imperative to ensure that you put your best case forward as to why you should be allowed to be granted bail or allowed at large.

In some instances, a defendant simply does not feel confident in appearing before the court to explain why they failed to attend. There is no one reason as to why you should engage a lawyer to assist.

Each of our lawyers are experienced with the specific requirements of surrendering a defendant to the court, ranging from a defendant missing a court date due to illness to something at the more extreme of a defendant remaining outside of Queensland for 20 years.


If I get a lawyer to surrender me to the court, do I have to use them for my matter?

The short answer is no. If you wish to handle your matter on your own then you are under no obligation to have the lawyer that helps with the surrender continue to work on your matter. If this is the case, it is best to tell them upfront so that they can ensure that they do not remain on record for the matter. You may even ultimately decide to retain their services for the duration of the matters as a result of your experiences with them.


Can I surrender and just deal with the charge that caused the warrant straight away?

The short answer is generally yes however it very much depends on the charge. If the charge is something like drink driving then you may try and deal with the charge straight away after surrendering however if you are after a work licence than you must not deal with the charge straight away. If the charge is more serious then you should not (and may legally be unable) to deal with the charge after the surrender.

You would need legal advice on whether you can deal with the charge straight away. Certainly if possible and if your best interests dealing with the charge might be the most efficient way but always get legal advice on this first as the wrong move can have significant consequences.



This article is by no means a comprehensive outline on how to surrender to the court and should be read in conjunction with our article on arrest warrants.

The key takeaway from this article is simple – do not wait to be arrested take positive action before that occurs


What courts do you cover?

We cover all courts in South East Queensland from Coolangatta to Hervey Bay and out to Toowoomba.

We are also a criminal law firm, we don’t do any other type of law so we are in the courts every day helping people with charges like this.

Just some of the courts we appear in to surrender are;

Beaudesert Magistrates Court

Beenleigh Magistrates Court

Brisbane Magistrates Court

Caloundra Magistrates Court

Caboolture Magistrates Court

Cleveland Magistrates Court

Coolangatta Magistrates Court

Gatton Magistrates Court

Gympie Magistrates Court

Holland Park Magistrates Court

Ipswich Magistrates Court

Maroochydore Magistrates Court

Nambour Magistrates Court

Noosa Magistrates Court

Pine Rivers Magistrates Court

Richlands Magistrates Court

Redcliffe Magistrates Court

Sandgate Magistrates Court

Southport Magistrates Court

Toowoomba Magistrates Court

Wynnum Magistrates Court


How do I get more information or engage Clarity Law to act for me? 

If you want to engage us or just need further no obligation information or advice then you can either;

1.       Use ourcontact formand we will contact you by email or phone at a time that suits you

2.       Call us on 1300 952 255 seven days a week, 7am to 7pm

3.       Book a time for us to call you

4.       Email of firms founder This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

5.       Send us a message on Facebook Messenger

We are a no pressure law firm, we are happy to provide information to assist you and a fixed price for your services, if you want to engage us then great, if not then you at least have more information. You wont be chased or hounded to engage us.  Remember its critical you get advice before going to court, this offence can have an impact on you, your family and your employment or business.  

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Jack Marshall

Jack is a former soldier and now a criminal defence lawyer with Clarity Law. He helps clients navigate the court process and get the best results.