Judge writing a bench warrant

Bench Warrants

When a judge is sitting and court is in session, he or she is said to be on the bench.

When a judge issues a warrant for a body attachment or to otherwise take somebody into custody, that warrant is said to have originated from the bench. That’s why it’s called a bench warrant.

Why They’re Issued

Bench warrants can be issued in either civil or criminal proceedings. In any case, they’re usually issued when a witness or a party fails to appear in court, after having received bail, and after receiving notice that’s reasonably calculated to apprise them of the necessity of their presence there. Bench warrants might be issued when:

  • A witness fails to appear after being ordered to testify in a criminal case
  • A defendant in a criminal misdemeanor or felony case fails to appear as required
  • A party or witness to a civil proceeding fails to appear after being ordered to do so

They don’t expire

Bench warrants don’t have to be served. Upon issuance, notice of the bench warrant is sent by first class mail to the respondent’s or defendant’s address that’s shown in the court’s file. Law enforcement isn’t required to obtain another warrant to enter the person’s home to take them into custody. Somebody can be taken into custody in one state on a bench warrant that was issued in another state. They don’t expire by lapse of time either. They remain in effect until such time as the person designated in the warrant is taken into custody or voluntarily appears before a judge.

What to do if a bench warrant has been issued against you

If you’re aware of the fact that a bench warrant has been issued to have you taken into custody, you have two options. You can contact a bail bond agency who will investigate it and advise you of your options, or you can retain an attorney and voluntarily present yourself to the court. There’s a risk of losing your freedom anytime that you have to go before a judge though. If your bail bond agency determines that payment of a surety on your behalf will eliminate the necessity of jeopardizing yourself in court in a bail bond hearing, you’ll want to use the services of that bail bond agency.

Bench warrants have serious legal consequences. The worst thing you can do is to ignore one. They don’t just go away. If you believe that a bench warrant has been issued against you, a bail bond agency will be in the best and most economical position to help you. Of course, you’ll ultimately have to appear in court, but when you do, that bail bond that you paid is standing behind you. That means it’s highly unlikely that you’ll be taken into custody. Your bail bond gives you that confidence.

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