A bench warrant is issued by the courts when a person misses their trial. This is called an “FTA”, or “failure to appear.” The word “bench” in bench warrant essentially implies the judge’s seat, and requests that you answer to the court for both your original charge and now for your FTA offense. In contrast to arrest warrants, bench warrants are used for minor criminal cases, mostly citations and similar petty infractions such as traffic tickets or j-walking. Basically, a bench warrant is a pending arrest.
If you were recently issued a bench warrant, it is vital that you fully understand what it means and what you need to do. Continue reading to learn the top 3 most important questions you should be asking yourself right now.
Bench warrants are most commonly issued for people in contempt of court. If the court gives a person guidelines or legal obligations, such as drug screenings or future court proceedings, they are expected to fulfill all of their legal responsibilities. If they fail to do so, such as skip a court date or violate probation, they are issued a bench warrant. It is metaphorically bringing someone to the “judge’s bench” for ruling.
❶ Will I Go to Jail for a Bench Warrant?
Although police will not be on the hunt for those with a bench warrant, the defendant will have their name entered into a statewide database that notifies law enforcement. This means that a person with a bench warrant can be arrested and taken into the custody by law enforcement if they are ever looked up in the database and discovered, such as in the case that they are stopped for a routine traffic offense or other scenario. Bench warrants do not stop at the police department; they are also sided by the Department of Motor Vehicles, who will suspend a person’s drivers’ license as well. When there is a bench warrant issued for someone’s arrest, there is very few options left for that person until they turn themselves in to the court.
❷ What Do I Do if I Have a Bench Warrant?
Unfortunately, a person must surrender themselves to the custody of law enforcement to appease their bench warrant and settle their legal matters appropriately. If a person chooses to not voluntarily surrender to the jail, they risk being arrested by law enforcement at any given moment in time, including routine traffic stops, I.D. checks, and more. This only leads to further punishment. It is wise to turn yourself into law enforcement if you have a bench warrant issued in your name. The longer you wait to face your violation, the harsher the penalties may be.
❸ How Do I Surrender to a Bench Warrant?
Since most bench warrant cases are not serious, you probably will not need to contact your criminal lawyer, especially if you are not a repeat offender or currently on probation or parole. Most often, your best bet for surrendering to any kind of warrant is to contact a local Indianapolis bail bondsman for prearranged bail bond services. This will save you hours of time and frustration. That is because after you call a bail bondsman, you will need to show up at the jail or county clerk’s office and submit to your bench warrant. This will entail you being taken into custody for processing, paying off court costs and fines for both the original charges and the FTA charge, paying off your bail, and then being issued a new court date. A bail bondsman can expedite this process for you; and some agencies even provide free rides from their office, to and from the jail.