A bench warrant is a legal order issued by a judge or court. Its purpose is to tell law enforcement to arrest an individual.
Usually, this is issued if someone fails to appear in court as required or violates the conditions of their bail or probation. Understanding what a bench warrant means if one is issued for you is important.
Bench warrant defined
A bench warrant is issued directly from the judge’s bench, hence the name. Unlike an arrest warrant, typically issued by law enforcement, a bench warrant is a court order that authorizes the immediate arrest of an individual.
There are several reasons a bench warrant may be issued. Some of the most common include the following:
- Failure to appear: One common reason for a bench warrant is failing to appear in court for a scheduled hearing, such as a trial, arraignment or other legal proceedings.
- Violation of conditions: If you are on bail, probation or court-ordered supervision, violating the conditions can lead to a bench warrant. This could include failing to comply with drug testing, attending counseling or treatment programs, or committing new offenses while on probation.
Potential consequences of a bench warrant
Once a bench warrant has been issued, law enforcement can arrest you on sight. If you are stopped for any reason, such as a routine traffic stop, the officer will run your information and discover the warrant, leading to your arrest.
How to handle a bench warrant
You should contact an attorney immediately to resolve a bench warrant. They can guide you on the best course of action, which may involve surrendering to law enforcement, paying bail if necessary and working towards a resolution with the court.
If you ignore a bench warrant, it can lead to serious consequences. When caught, you may face additional charges, increased bail amounts or the loss of your opportunity to resolve the original legal matter favorably. Understanding the purpose of bench warrants and your legal rights is essential to handle the situation.