Did you miss a court appearance or not follow the conditions of your pretrial release to the letter? If so, there may be a bench warrant out for your arrest.
What Is a Bench Warrant?
A bench warrant is an order by a judge to law enforcement officers to take you into custody and bring you to court. This means that you may face immediate arrest at any time even if you need to go to work or make an important appointment.
How Can You Get a Bench Warrant?
When you’re arrested and released on either bail or personal recognizance (without bail), you make a promise to return to court.
If you fail to appear as promised, the judge will generally issue a bench warrant.
You can also get a bench warrant if you’re late to court. If you aren’t there when your case is called, the judge has no way of knowing if you’re on your way or are skipping out on your court date.
A judge may also issue a bench warrant if you violate a condition of pretrial release. For example, if you contact the alleged victim despite being ordered not to, the judge may decide to issue a bench warrant rather than waiting until your next scheduled appearance to discuss the issue.
What Happens If You Are Arrested on a Bench Warrant?
A bench warrant instructs the officer to bring you before a judge without unnecessary delay. In reality, the process will take a minimum of several hours, and you could end up spending the night in custody.
It takes time for you to be transported to the proper courthouse, and you could face a lengthy wait for an available judge especially if you are arrested outside of normal court hours. Many people have lost their jobs due to being arrested on a warrant and not being able to show up for work.
When you appear before the judge, the judge has several options.
• Revoking your bail and requiring you to remain in jail until trial.
• Increasing your bail.
• Imposing additional pretrial conditions.
• Continuing your original bail and pretrial release conditions.
The judge will consider the entire situation including your past record, whether this is your first time missing court, your reason for missing court, and the seriousness of the violation.
What Can You Do About a Bench Warrant?
You have two options for dealing with a bench warrant if you don’t want the possibility of a sudden arrest hanging over your head.
The first is to go to court as soon as possible. The fact that you returned voluntarily will generally help you when the judge is deciding what to do about your bail and pretrial conditions.
The second is to file a motion to quash the bench warrant. This is basically asking the judge to excuse your failure to appear and to withdraw the warrant. However, the judge does not have to grant the motion, and you may still face arrest until the warrant is officially withdrawn.
How a Baltimore County Criminal Defense Attorney Can Help?
The first way an attorney can help is to potentially stop a bench warrant from being issued. If you know you can’t make your court date, call your attorney as soon as possible, and he may be able to reschedule it or ask the judge to excuse your appearance.
If a bench warrant is issued, your attorney can prepare a motion to quash the warrant or help you to voluntarily appear with minimal disruption to your life. Your attorney will also work to convince the judge to not increase your bail or change your pretrial conditions.
To get help with a bench warrant or to find out if you have a bench warrant for your arrest, contact a Towson Criminal Defense Attorney now.