A bench warrant means a judge has issued an order for a defendant’s arrest. Often, the person on whom the warrant is issued has already been charged with a crime but did not appear in court on the designated court date to face charges. This is known as a bench warrant for failure to appear. But a judge can issue a bench warrant anytime a person violates the rules of the court.
Once a judge issues a bench warrant, law enforcement may treat it like any other warrant. This usually means seeking out the subject of the warrant for arrest. If you discover you have a bench warrant out, it is a good idea to get a lawyer and turn yourself in as soon as possible. Some people believe they can evade a bench warrant, but those people are almost always wrong.
The Difference Between a Bench Warrant and Arrest Warrant
Both bench warrants and arrest warrants authorize law enforcement to place the subject under arrest and bring him to court to face charges. The primary difference is that a judge has sole discretion over the bench warrant process from beginning to end, whereas a law enforcement officer petitions for an arrest warrant, which a judge then signs and issues.
Law enforcement files for an arrest warrant when they believe they have probable cause to arrest a person—for instance, video evidence depicting the person committing a crime. If the judge is convinced enough evidence exists for an arrest, she signs the warrant, permitting law enforcement to carry out the arrest.
No matter what type of warrant you have out—bench or arrest—you can expect to be arrested in the near future, so it’s a good idea to speak with a criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible.
What Happens After a Judge Issues a Bench Warrant
Following the issuance of a bench warrant, the police or local law enforcement treat it the same as an arrest warrant; they will attempt to track you down and arrest you, bringing you to court to face your charges.
Depending on the workload of the police where you live, this process may occur quickly, such as within 24 hours, or it could take days, weeks, or months. But, as long as you have a bench warrant out, you can expect each day could be the day you are arrested.
Facing a Bench Warrant or Criminal Charges? Call a Defense Lawyer at McKenzie Law Firm, P.C. at 610-680-7842 for a Free Case Evaluation
A bench warrant means you can be arrested at any time. Facing criminal charges can be frightening. A criminal defense lawyer from McKenzie Law Firm, P.C. will fight for your rights and help you move past these challenging circumstances. We fight for you, so you can get your life back. To schedule a free consultation and case evaluation with a member of our staff, call us today at 610-680-7842.