A warrant may be issued for your arrest if you missed your court date or appearance. If you miss your first court date, immediately contact the Public Defender's Office in your county and ask for assistance. If you have missed any court date after your first court date, you should contact your private lawyer or public defender right away.
If you cannot get a lawyer to help you, you can file a Petition to Vacate Bond Forfeiture and judgment. In your petition, you are asking the judge to throw out the bond forfeiture and judgment that caused the warrant. You should explain why you missed your court date and why the judge should put your bond back in place.
If you are in Cook County, you can use the following form:
Fill out your form, and make 2 copies. Then take them to the circuit clerk at the courthouse where your court date was supposed to be. The circuit clerk will tell you your next court date.
Get to the courtroom at least 15 minutes before the time your petition is scheduled to be heard. There will be a clerk sitting at the front of the courtroom, next to the judge's chair. Tell the clerk you are there for your Petition to Vacate Bond Forfeiture and show the clerk a copy of the petition. Then sit down in the courtroom and wait for your case to be called.
At the hearing
Step up and stand in front of the judge. Tell the judge you are there for your Petition to Vacate Bond Forfeiture. You will have to tell the judge why you missed your last court date and why the judge should trust that you will be at all future court dates.
Ask the judge to put your bond back in place so you can be released without having to pay more bond. Make sure you take any evidence that supports, or explains why you missed your court date. For example, hospital papers showing that you were in the hospital during the court date.
The judge can decide do the following things:
- Vacate the bond forfeiture, put your bond back in place and set a new court date for your case;
- Deny (turn down) your petition, set a new bond and court date, and order you be taken into custody until you pay the new bond;
- Vacate the bond forfeiture and throw out the whole case; or
- Make you pay a fee for filing the petition, usually $30.