February 25, 2021
Summary: If you can't make a court date, you can't just ignore it. Find out how to ask if you can appear in court by phone.
There are a thousand and one reasons why you might not be able to make it to your court hearing. But that doesn't mean the court is going to change its schedule around on your behalf, especially on short notice.
Did you know that some courts allow you to appear in court by phone? When this is allowed and by whom depends on many factors, such as what type of hearing it is and the rules of the court.
Keep in mind that some court hearings do not allow appearance by telephone. If the hearing is contested and evidence is going to be presented, it is highly unlikely that you'll be able to appear by phone.
Understandably, things come up unexpectedly, and life gets in the way, even when it comes to important matters like a court date. If you know that you're not going to be able to attend your scheduled court hearing, there are a few key steps you need to take to ensure you are in good standing with the court.
First of all, you need to contact both the court and your attorney the moment you know that you're not going to be able to make it. Failure to let anyone know is not going to do you any favors.
What's more, you can't just decide to call the court on the day of and expect them to accommodate you. Unless they are well-informed ahead of time and you are approved to appear in court by phone, you will be deemed a no-show and will likely face consequences for not attending.
Depending on the nature of your hearing, the court could issue a bench warrant for failure to appear. Therefore, you must check your court's rules and guidelines to see if appearing by phone is even an option.
Many courts make this information readily available via their websites. However, if you're unable to find it online, you'll need to contact the court directly to get this information. You will most likely need to speak with the county clerk either way.
It would also be prudent to contact the court coordinator. They can speak with the judge directly to determine if you can appear in court by phone. You want to be sure to document the contents of your conversations with the court.
Make note of when you called, who you spoke with, and what their answer was. Furthermore, it's a good idea to mail a physical request to the court, detailing your need to appear by phone.
In most cases, you're going to need approval not only from the court but the opposing party, as well. If the opposing party doesn't need to agree to your request, likely you will still need to give notice to them concerning your plans.
This information should be sent to the opposing party's attorney, assuming they have one. If they don't, you should send your request to the opposing party directly.
If you don't already have an attorney for your court hearing, you may need to get one to file your request to appear in court by phone. It depends on your court and their rules for going about this.
In many cases, courts require that an attorney first file a Motion for Telephonic Hearing, as well as an Order for Telephonic Hearing.
If your court does not require that an attorney file these motions and orders, you may want to look for a motion template and draft the request yourself. Check with your local law library for this information.
If you're on a tight budget and the court allows it, drafting the motion yourself will save you from having to pay an attorney to do it for you. You may, however, still be responsible for paying to appear in court by phone.
Some courts use a special phone service that charges you a fee to use it. Again, the court coordinator can tell you whether this is the case and how much it will cost you, if applicable.
With all that said, you're always better off speaking with an attorney. They can help you with this matter and ensure that you don't overlook any critical steps along the way. If possible, your attorney can even represent you on the day that you can't make it to your hearing, thus ensuring the best outcome.
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