What is a Bench Warrant?
According to Cornell University, a bench warrant is “a process or a legal document issued by the court itself or from the ‘bench’ for the detainment or arrest of a person in a criminal or civil court proceeding, either in a case of contempt, especially when the criminal defendant is on bail, or a witness under subpoena does not appear for trial, or where an indictment has been filed against the other defendant.”
A judge can issue a bench warrant any time an individual violates the court’s rules. Law enforcement will then treat the warrant as any other warrant and attempt to locate and detain the individual.
Common Reasons for a Bench Warrant to Occur
Several reasons induce a judge to issue a bench warrant. Some of the most common are listed below:
- Failure to adhere to probation terms – those on probation must follow strict rules to remain in compliance. If those rules are not followed, a bench warrant may be issued to resolve the situation.
- Failure to appear in courts – if you are on bail and choose not to show up for your court date, a bench warrant will be issued for your detainment.
- Failing to ignore a subpoena – if you are a witness of the defendant and fail to appear, you may have a bench warrant. Similarly, a bench warrant may be filed if you are a juror and fail to appear and carry out your duties.
- Failure to pay court-ordered support – whether it’s child support or spousal support, you fail to pay, you may have a bench warrant and other penalties in the future.
- Failure to pay a fine or citation – if you neglect to pay, a bench warrant may be issued.
What To Do if You Were Issued a Bench Warrant
If you are made aware of your bench warrant, you should first speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately. Most don’t realize that there are typically options involved, depending on the circumstances surrounding your warrant, and you may be able to pursue other options aside from sitting in jail.
Ignoring the warrant will not make it go away and can lead to frustrating circumstances. With a warrant, law enforcement can seek you at your home or place of employment, or even when pulled over for a speeding ticket; you can be taken to jail. If you stay in jail for a considerable amount of time waiting for your turn to speak with the judge and clear up the issue, this may cause problems with your family, your career, your vehicle being impounded, and more.
By speaking with an experienced attorney, you can discuss your options and prepare for the best outcome for your specific scenario.
Can a Bench Warrant Be Recalled?
You can sometimes work with your attorney to petition the judge to have the bench warrant recalled. Each scenario is different, so this is not a guarantee, but if your attorney thinks you may be a good candidate for a warrant recall, they can petition one for you. If you have a limited criminal background and the warrant hasn’t been active for a considerable amount of time, you may be a good candidate for a recall.
This process shows the judge that you are serious, taking the matter into your own hands, speaking with an attorney, and wanting to resolve the issue. This action also shows the judge that you are committed to working with an attorney and, therefore, more committed to showing up in court in the future regarding the issues at hand.
What If My Request To Recall the Warrant is Denied?
If your request to have the warrant recalled is denied, you and your attorney may choose a second option: filing a motion for a warrant surrender in conjunction with a bond review.
This approach is almost always more effective and less risky than simply turning yourself in for several reasons. The first is that you again show yourself capable and committed to resolution by working with an attorney. Secondly, you are free to go if the judge decides to release you. If the judge determines that you must be released on bond rather than on your own recognizance, the bond can be set simultaneously rather than waiting for this process to occur while you are in jail. If you can suffice the bond, you can walk out of court until the next necessary court appearance.
It is important to note that based on your criminal history, the severity of the charges, and other factors, there is a risk of the judge denying your release and ordering that you spend time in jail without bond. Your experienced criminal defense attorney can weigh your options and help you decide which avenue is best and how to resolve the warrant.
Why Work With Us?
We are committed beyond our capabilities and legal experience. We pride ourselves on solving “people” problems, not just legal problems. We fully understand and respect how much a legal problem can disrupt your life, and we are committed to effectively resolving the issue so you can get back to your life as you know it and move forward.
Contact our office today at (317) 623-4546 for a free case evaluation and to learn more about how we can effectively assist you. Your call will be met with a dedicated and passionate team ready to serve you.