What is a Bench Warrant?
Bench warrants are similar to arrest warrants, granting law enforcement officers the power to track you down and bring you before a judge for court proceedings. However, with help from an experienced New York criminal defense lawyer, an outstanding bench warrant could be lifted before it’s too late.
When you fail to appear for court dates or follow court orders, a judge can issue a bench warrant against you. This article explains what that warrant entails and why judges may give them.
What Is a Bench Warrant?
Bench warrants are legal documents issued by judges or district magistrates that authorize law enforcement officers to arrest an individual who has broken court orders. As opposed to arrest warrants issued by police officers with reasonable suspicion that someone has committed a crime, judges can give bench warrants when civil or criminal court rules have been broken.
Bench warrants may be issued when someone fails to appear for scheduled court hearings such as an arraignment, pretrial conference, trial, or sentencing date; misses jury duty; fails to pay child support as ordered by the court, and fails to surrender on bail or comply with probationary conditions. A judge may also issue such warrants against those who refuse to offer bail or refuse to comply with probationary requirements.
Bench warrants are often issued from the bench in the courtroom, though they can also be known as capias warrants or arrest warrants for contempt of court.
A judge may issue a bench warrant only when an individual has deliberately violated an order or condition placed upon them by the court, not for unruly or violent individuals nor those suspected of specific criminal activities.
An individual arrested under a bench warrant will generally be brought before the court that issued it unless another judge transfers their case. They can explain their actions before being released on their recognizance or subject to bail, depending on how severe a judge deems any violations of court rules to be.
If you have a bench warrant in your name, it must be resolved immediately. Ignoring the situation or hoping that it goes away on its own isn’t safe, and the most efficient way is working with an attorney – at Musa-Obregon Law PC, we provide effective services designed to fight warrants and vacate them!
Why is a Bench Warrant Issued?
A judge may issue a bench warrant for various reasons, such as failing to appear in court, not paying fines ordered by the judge, violating probation conditions, or missing drug treatment programs. Anyone failing to appear at scheduled court hearings is typically held in contempt of court – any act which interferes with or insults the administration of justice by judges, such as failing to pay child support payments on time or violating probation terms and missing treatment programs for which they had registered as obligations. Defendants or anyone failing to fulfill court obligations could face such sanctions, including contempt charges as being held responsible.
People in New York with bench warrants typically incurred one after missing court appearance dates without notifying the court in advance, often without valid reasons such as illness or job loss being provided to justify ignoring their hearing date. Judges used to issue bench warrants automatically.
Suppose a person has an active bench warrant. In that case, their information will be added to a police database, and any officer running their name or license plate could potentially arrest them at any time – which can be both frustrating and humiliating for those affected. It is wise to consult a criminal defense lawyer when you suspect one might be in your name.
Criminal attorneys can work quickly to clear your bench warrant before it impacts your life negatively. To do this effectively, plan a court date that works for you with your lawyer to deal with the bench warrant and any legal issues in your case. It is imperative to have an experienced legal representative on your side when facing such complex matters as they can have adverse repercussions in multiple ways; the longer an outstanding bench warrant remains on record, means more difficult it will be to clear it and minimize its harmful effects, including risking arrest at any moment and being denied specific jobs or loans, among many others.
What Happens if I Have a Bench Warrant?
Judges often issue bench warrants when someone misses court dates such as an arraignment, pretrial conference, trial, or sentencing due to forgetfulness, scheduling conflicts, or intentional attempts at circumventing the legal system. Bench warrants may also be issued due to failure to pay child support as ordered by the court, violating restraining orders, or failing to testify at hearings in their cases.
If a bench warrant has been issued against you, local law enforcement will attempt to locate and arrest you. This process could take days, weeks, or months depending on their criminal history and the likelihood that they flee prosecution.
When you discover an arrest warrant out for you in New York City, it is wise to consult a bench warrant lawyer immediately. A qualified legal professional may help reschedule or quash it before it is too late.
Experienced defense attorneys understand how to present evidence that you did not fail to appear, violate the terms of your bail or probation agreement, or cause other infractions. They can argue for your release on your recognizance without bail, as there would not be any risk that you would flee the jurisdiction and avoid future court dates as required by the court.
If you have an outstanding bench warrant, being pulled over by police officers or stopped for any other reason could result in instantaneous arrest. They will use the police database to run your name through and identify it; additionally, you could also be arrested at your job or home if found on site; having such an outstanding bench warrant makes traveling abroad very challenging as it could complicate reentry back into the United States; for more information contact an experienced New York City bench warrant attorney immediately.
What Can I Do if I Have a Bench Warrant?
If a bench warrant has been issued against you, law enforcement officers can apprehend you at any time. Once charged, you will likely appear before the judge who issued the warrant, who may decide between release on recognizance or setting bail and extra punishments such as fines. Having legal representation by your side could make all the difference.
Quashing the bench warrant can be the legal term for getting it removed from you, and having your lawyer accompany you when being officially arrested should prove helpful in providing arguments to support why you failed to appear and demonstrate that there hasn’t been any attempt on your part to avoid or ignore the case.
The goal of these efforts should be convincing the judge to recall your bench warrant, or at the very least not send you back to jail, due to missing court dates due to child support obligations or violating restraining order violations. The court will consider why such issues led to bench warrant issuance; for example, if Joan failed to appear due to needing child support payments or violating an injunction order. In such a scenario, the judge may want Joan to address these concerns before considering recalling or withdrawing it altogether.
Unless a bench warrant is recalled promptly, it can have serious repercussions. Police could arrest you for driving with a suspended license, which can result in misdemeanor charges and may prevent you from going to work or school, meeting family obligations, and seeing doctors for related health issues.
Bench warrants are often picked up during background checks, with many companies conducting them before hiring employees. Therefore, it’s wise to speak to an attorney immediately for advice before it’s too late – an experienced criminal defense lawyer will be able to explain all your charges, rights, and options depending on the facts of your case and will manage its removal for you.