What is a Bench Warrant?

An arrest warrant is a legal document that requires someone to be arrested. There are many reasons why an arrest warrant may be issued. They are routine in cases where a defendant fails to show up in court. If this occurs, the judge will issue an arrest warrant. A bench warrant is not exactly the same as an arrest warrant. A bench warrant specifically addresses a failure to appear at a scheduled court hearing or failing to pay a traffic ticket. A bench warrant allows police to make an arrest, should the person be located. This can happen in the course of a standard traffic stop.

What Happens If I Have an Outstanding Bench Warrant?

When the judge issues an arrest warrant, you may not know that it has been issued. However, if you are stopped for a routine traffic infraction, the police will find it when they run a check on your driver’s license. If there is an outstanding warrant, the police will take you into custody on the warrant. As with any type of arrest, you are entitled to rights – the police officer must read you your Miranda Rights. These include the right to remain silent and the right to an attorney. You are also informed that anything you say can be used in court. The police officer must also show you the arrest warrant upon your arrest.

What is the Difference between an Arrest Warrant and Bench Warrant?

An arrest warrant is issued for someone who is charged with a criminal offense while a bench warrant is typically for an act of contempt of court. Simply put, a bench warrant is usually for neglecting to show up for a scheduled court appearance. This is a crime against the court. Bench warrants can also be issued in civil cases. The end result of both types of warrants is the same. A warrant allows police to make an arrest. Because bench warrants aren’t for serious crimes, as regular arrest warrant may be, police generally do not actively pursue someone who has a bench warrant. Instead, if the person is stopped for some other reason, the police will act on the bench warrant once they become aware of it.

What to Do if Arrested on a Bench Warrant

A bench warrant arrest, like any arrest, requires the police to bring you to jail. You’ll be booked at the police station. After an arrest, the defendant will be brought before a judge for a first appearance or hearing. At the hearing the judge will provide you with the details of the crime and set bail. In some cases, especially if this is your first offense, the judge may release you on your own recognizance. The judge also sets a hearing date. It is essential to seek legal representation as soon as possible after being arrested. Your attorney will review your case and help to present your defense to get the best possible results for your case.