A bench warrant is a type of arrest warrant issued by a judge from the “bench,” which is typically a reference to the judge’s seat in a courtroom. This type of warrant is not used to initiate a criminal case but is issued during legal proceedings. Bench warrants are typically issued for one of the following reasons:
- Failure to Appear: The most common reason for issuing a bench warrant is when an individual fails to appear in court as required, whether it’s for a scheduled hearing, trial, or other legal proceeding. This failure to appear can occur in various types of cases, including criminal, civil, or traffic cases.
- Contempt of Court: Bench warrants can also be issued for contempt of court. Contempt of court occurs when an individual disobeys or disrespects the court’s authority, such as violating a court order or disrupting court proceedings.
- Violation of Probation or Parole: If someone is on probation or parole and they violate the terms of their release, a bench warrant may be issued to apprehend them and bring them back to court to address the violation.
- Failure to Pay Fines or Restitution: In some cases, bench warrants can be issued when an individual fails to pay court-ordered fines, restitution, or fees.
When a bench warrant is issued, law enforcement agencies are authorized to arrest the individual named in the warrant and bring them before the court. Once the individual is in custody, they can address the underlying issue that led to the warrant, such as appearing in court, resolving a contempt matter, or dealing with probation or parole violations.
It’s important to take bench warrants seriously, as they can result in arrest and potential legal consequences. Suppose you are aware of an outstanding bench warrant for your arrest or have questions about legal matters. In that case, consulting with an attorney who can provide guidance and assistance is advisable.