When you have a court date, it’s really in your best interest to show up to it. Missing your court date can result in an arrest warrant, after all. And if dealing with an arrest is what got you that court date in the first place, a second arrest is the last thing you. Still, sometimes it’s necessary to reschedule for various reasons. The court is under no obligation to grant your request but you have the right to make the request. You should provide a good reason for the absence or the continuance request or else the court can deny you. Note that procedures differ from county to county and state to state. In criminal cases, it is wisest to show up on your court date and request a continuance. If you absolutely can’t make it, an attorney can request a continuance for you.

Work, sickness, family obligations and, if you happen to be in the armed forces, military commitments can make it difficult to attend court dates. While a judge won’t grant you a delay for matters of convenience, you can get delays when serious scheduling conflicts arise. You should always apply for the shortest delay possible and try your best to appear in court according to the original schedule.

In some cases you may just need a letter. Other courts may be more formal and require a particular form or even a separate hearing just for the rescheduling. To reschedule without appearing in court, contact the court clerk. Remember to look for the clerk to the court, not your county clerk who handles administrative matters for your county. If you found the clerk’s information on the Internet, look for a FAQ or a self-help section and see if it gives you instructions about rescheduling your court date. Normally, each division has different rules. If you find an online form, pay careful attention to the time frames listed and complete the form. If you do not, a physical form can be retrieved from the clerk’s office.

If you are able to attend court on your scheduled date at all, you can still request a continuance. When your name is called, wait until the judge addresses you. He may ask you if you are ready to proceed. At this point, you can ask the judge for a continuance. He will ask you for the reason. If you have a mandatory appearance somewhere else, a serious work obligation or some other reasonable excuse, the judge may grant your continuance and set a new date right then. If you used a bail bond for pretrial release, the judge may even be more willing to work with your schedule since he or she will know that your bondsman can hold you accountable to future court dates. Be 100% sure your motion for a new date was approved and you have received written notice about it. If you accidentally “skip out,” a warrant will be issued for your arrest.