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What is a Bench Warrant?

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If a defendant has been issued an order to appear before court and the defendant fails to appear, a bench warrant is authorized. This type of warrant is issued by the court and, once the warrant has been issued, police officers may take actions needed to bring the defendant before the court.

Types of Bench Warrant Orders

Bench warrant orders are either civil bench warrants or criminal bench warrants. In both cases, the warrant is issued when a defendant received a notice to appear in court and failed to do so. Instances when this type of warrant may be issued include:

  • Someone has been called to testify before the court and fails to appear.
  • A parent has received a subpoena to appear before a custody trial and does not show.
  • A defendant has been charged with a severe traffic violation – such as a DUI – and fails to appear at their scheduled court date.
  • An indictment has been released for a person charged with a criminal violation and that person fails to attend their scheduled court hearing.

Steps to Take if a Bench Warrant has Been Issued

If a bench warrant has been issued, the defendant should contact an attorney or even the issuing court as soon as possible. If extenuating circumstances prevented the defendant from appearing before the court, these circumstances may be taken into consideration – and a new court date may be set. An attorney may act on the defendant’s behalf as well to plead the defendant’s circumstances and possibly arrange a resolution to the bench warrant without an arrest.

Bench Warrant Cautions

No matter where or when a bench warrant was issued, the warrant will not expire until the defendant has resolved the warrant; even if a defendant has been issued this type of warrant in another state, the warrant may still be used to arrest the defendant at any time. Once police officers are aware of the warrant, they have permission to arrest the defendant and even enter the defendant’s home without permission. This type of warrant does not need to be served personally to the defendant either – once it is issued a notice is mailed to the defendant’s address which is in the court’s records, and regardless of whether or not the defendant is still at that address the warrant is considered valid.

*The information in this article does not constitute legal advice. Please contact a legal professional in your local area for the best up-to-date and accurate legal advice.

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