Changing My Court Date
Can I change My Court Date?
In Virginia, if you want to change your court date, you or your attorney can ask the court to change the date by filing a “motion to continue” also known as a “continuance”. The person filing the continuance can choose to have their case heard on an earlier date or a later date. However, the court will only change the court date to one of the officer’s designated court dates if your case is in General District Court or Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court.
All officers and troopers are scheduled to appear in court a few days each month to prosecute the traffic tickets they recently issued. Consequently, if a court date is changed, it must be changed to one of the days that the officer is scheduled to appear in court.
The procedure for issuing continuances for traffic tickets prior to trial varies between jurisdictions. In some jurisdictions the clerk’s office will give only one automatic continuance for some types of reckless driving tickets. Other jurisdictions require that the prosecutions officer or a judge approve the continuance. In many jurisdictions you may ask for a continuance when you appear in front of the judge on your court date.
Warning: If you have an attorney it is not wise to change your court date without first talking to him or her! Changing your court date can seriously affect the outcome of your case. Court dates can be continued only a limited number of times. Always consult a Fairfax reckless driving attorney before getting a continuance.
How Do I Change My Court Date?
Although every jurisdiction varies, there are several general rules that apply to most jurisdictions in Virginia:
- You cannot continue a case more than once or twice unless you have a very good reason. Use your continuances sparingly because you may need them later.
- Court dates are selected based on when the officer is scheduled to be in court (generally once or twice a month). You cannot set a court day for a day other than the officer’s court date if you are in JDR or GDC courts.
- To find out the specific procedure for changing your court date prior to the day of trial contact your local court clerk or consult a local reckless driving attorney.
- To change the court date on the day of trial, ask the judge for a continuance when your case is called.
- If you want a second continuance or if you want to change the court date to a time more than one or two months in the future you may need to explain your reasons to a judge. Generally, good reasons include hospitalization, military service, time for gathering evidence or getting witnesses to court.
How many times can I change my court date?
Typically you cannot continue a case more than once or twice unless you have a very good reason. Use your continuances sparingly because you may need them. Continuances are limited in number and have important strategic value. Continuances may be necessary in order to hire your preferred attorney if that attorney has a schedule conflict. Continuance can be used to get a witness to court or to gather evidence. If the prosecution or an officer surprises your attorney with unexpected evidence a continuance can be invaluable.
Can I pick which date to be in court?
Your assigned court date will be scheduled for one of the few days that your officer is scheduled to come to court. If you want to change your court date, the new court date must be on one of your officer’s prearranged court dates.
Is there any advantage/disadvantage to changing my court date?
Continuances can have a major effect on your case and your attorney’s ability to represent you. In Virginia traffic court, the prosecution is not required to automatically share the evidence against you prior to the trial date. In many jurisdictions, your attorney cannot talk to the prosecution about your case until only minutes before your trial. If your attorney is confronted with new evidence or an unexpected prosecution tactic, your attorney may use a continuance to avoid an ambush. Continuances are valuable and limited in number and should not be used without consulting a local reckless driving attorney.
Continuances can also affect which reckless driving attorney you are able to hire. If the attorney you wish to hire has a schedule conflict on the date of your trial the attorney can ask for a continuance in order to represent you. However, if the you have used up your continuances before hiring an attorney, you may be forced to choose an attorney based on who is available.
What if the officer does not show up?
In Virginia, it is unlikely that your officer will not show up to the trial because that officer only appears in court once or twice a month. An entire month’s worth of cases would be ruined if your officer did not show up to court. Officers who do not appear in court on their court date could face negative consequences if they do not have a good excuse for doing so.
If the officer chooses not to appear as a result of health, accidents, or some other legitimate excuse or if you are facing serious charges, some judges will grant the government a continuance if the officer does not show up. Some courts may be more likely to grant the government a continuance if the driver has already received a continuance.