Bench Warrants

For any of a variety of reasons, if you fail to show up to court at the date and time it sets (called a failure to appear or FTA), the judge may order a bench warrant. Once issued, the bench warrant enables the police to take you into custody and keep you there until you post the required bail.

Common Reasons for Bench Warrants

For the most part, bench warrants issue for people who don’t appear for traffic or other municipal violations, but sometimes, not paying an assessed fine, not appearing for jury duty or violating a court’s earlier order (like to pay child support) will earn you a bench warrant.

 

It’s important to know that people are often unaware that a warrant has been issued. On occasion, the notice to appear gets lost in the mail, and the person never even learns of the court date. In other cases, the person cannot take time off from work and skips the court date, assuming the consequences are minimal. They would be mistaken.

 

For example, if a bench warrant was issued for a traffic violation, it’s possible your license could be suspended – without you even knowing it. Following that, if police pull you over again, you could face an additional charge of driving with a suspended license.

Arrested on a Bench Warrant

If you aren’t proactive in dealing with your bench warrant, and get picked up, you will most likely be kept in custody until you post bail. And the court may be more inclined to set a higher bail because you didn’t voluntarily appear. In addition, there may be fines and other fees and costs that coincide with the bench warrant, and these will likely grow larger the longer the warrant remains active.

Dismissing a Bench Warrant

It is possible to get a bench warrant dismissed (technically, called quashed or recalled) without you spending any time in custody. The likelihood of doing this is better the sooner you start, and if you have an experienced and skilled attorney assisting you. This attorney can file a motion with the court, and, depending on your circumstances, the matter can be resolved after payment of any bail and court fees and costs. In fact, if the charges are not too serious and you don’t have a history of failing to appear, you may not even need to appear in court – your attorney can handle it all for you. 

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Questions about your bench warrant? Contact us for a free and confidential consultation.