An outstanding warrant in Pennsylvania can make it difficult for you to obtain employment, housing, or lead a productive life—even if you move out of state.
When you have an outstanding warrant in Pennsylvania, but you now live in another state, you may be at risk of being taken into police custody. Police may apprehend you while you are at work, home, or even during a routine traffic stop. An arrest warrant or a bench warrant can become outstanding warrants.
A bench warrant authorizes the arrest of an individual who is in contempt of court due to a nonappearance.
An outstanding warrant in Pennsylvania places you in the position of having your bail revoked and forfeited. For your peace of mind, you should strongly consider resolving your warrant immediately.
Determining Whether You Have a Bench Warrant in Pennsylvania
Most likely, if you are a defendant, and you missed your court date, the court issued a bench warrant for your arrest. A criminal defense attorney can let you know what your legal options are moving forward. A criminal defense attorney can also represent you as you work to resolve the warrant.
Public court dockets appear online, and you can search them by entering your name. Any search results will indicate if the court has issued a bench warrant.
About Pennsylvania Bench Warrants
A Pennsylvania court can issue a bench warrant if you failed to appear in court as scheduled or if you fail to comply with a subpoena. By issuing a bench warrant, the judge is instructing the police to arrest you and bring you to court.
The judge may charge you with “default in required in appearance (PA Title 18, §5124).” This charge—which can be a misdemeanor or felony—will be added to your existing criminal charges. If the court now considers you a flight risk, it could revoke your bail. The court could also decide to forfeit your bail. If your bail is forfeited, whoever put up your bail will end up paying the remainder of it that was previously covered by Pennsylvania County.
A Lawyer Can Help With Your Warrant
A frightening aspect of having an outstanding warrant in PA is the chance that you could find yourself in jail for failing to deal with it. We recommend facing your warrant head-on, with the help of a criminal defense attorney.
Your lawyer might be able to arrange alternatives to your arrest and incarceration. For example, your attorney may be able to arrange an appearance for you at an arraignment or a hearing before the police arrest you. Alternatively, your lawyer might be able to work things out for you to turn yourself in at the jail booking area, as opposed to you being arrested at your home or place of work.
Lifting a Bench Warrant
Most likely, you will suffer less severe consequences for your bench warrant by turning yourself in. The court will schedule a bench warrant hearing, and they are required to do so within 72 hours. In your hearing, the judge will lift the bench warrant. Next, they will decide if they are going to revoke your bail, raise your bail, or release you on the same bail.
Expect more severe consequences if the police arrest you for an outstanding warrant. They will take you to a correctional facility, where you will remain incarcerated until the bench warrant judge can see you.
If a court placed you on probation or parole, and you fail to report to your probation or parole officer, the court will issue an arrest warrant. This type of arrest warrant is also known as an absconder warrant.
The U.S. Courts define an absconder as a person who left the jurisdiction without authorization, or an individual who has not personally contacted their community supervision officer within three months or 90 days.
If your arrest took place outside of Pennsylvania, an extradition can occur to bring you back to Pennsylvania, this is also known as detainment and extradition (PA Title 42, Chapter 91). A criminal defense lawyer can help you understand your legal options in this situation. They can schedule an emergency bond hearing so you can be released, rather than spending your time in confinement.
Again, the course of action you want to consider is voluntarily turning yourself in. The courts and prosecutors will appreciate the time and cost savings of avoiding the extradition process. By contacting a lawyer, you will get legal guidance and representation in your case. A lawyer can protect your rights during this period.
Be sure to hire a lawyer in the jurisdiction where your warrant was initially issued, so your lawyer can work with the court to negotiate a lower bond. Lowering your bond may also resolve the matter without you returning to Pennsylvania.
Probation Detainers in Pennsylvania
If your release was contingent on you serving probation for a previous offense, but you later commit a crime causing another arrest, you must contact your probation officer. The officer may, in turn, prepare their version of a bench warrant. An officer’s bench warrant notifies law enforcement connected to your newer arrest that they must detain you in jail. The purpose of the officer’s bench warrant is to hold you until you can appear before a judge for a probation violation hearing. In this case, you will not participate in a bail hearing.
If you have a criminal defense lawyer, they can petition the judge to lift the detainer so you can go home while you wait for your probation violation hearing, rather than wait in jail for the hearing to take place.
We Can Help You Resolve Your Outstanding Warrant
If you have an outstanding warrant in Pennsylvania, even if you’ve moved out of state, and you would like to resolve the matter, call McKenzie Law Firm, P.C. for a free case evaluation at (610) 680-7842.