Outstanding Bench Warrant – When you can be arrested
A bench warrant is an order from a judge or magistrate to law enforcement personnel that gives them the power to arrest you and bring you to court. Typically, a bench warrant is issued for individuals when they fail to appear in court to respond to criminal charges. A summons is an order from a judge to appear in court on a specific day at a specific time. You are required to act as instructed in a summons, and failure to do so will usually result in a bench warrant being issued against you. Even if the summons was sent to your former address and you did not receive it, a bench warrant will be issued when you fail to appear in court.
In other cases, a bench warrant is issued for failure to comply with a court order, such as paying child support, violating a restraining order, or failing to come to court to testify in a case in which you are a witness.
The effect of having an outstanding bench warrant is that any law enforcement officer can arrest you and bring you before a judge at any time. Although officers will typically not seek you out in response to a bench warrant, your name will be entered into a database that all officers can access. This means that any encounter with a police officer can result in your arrest. If you are pulled over for a traffic stop like running a red light or speeding, the officer who stops you will run your name through the database and will see that you have an outstanding bench warrant. The officer then has the power to arrest you immediately.
Alternatively, if you are involved in a car accident and police are called to the scene, they can run your name through their database, see your bench warrant, and arrest you on the spot.
In another common scenario, if you call 911 for assistance with a security threat, or because there is a fire or serious accident, and the responding officers realize you have a bench warrant, they can arrest you.
If you are arrested on an outstanding bench warrant, you will be brought to court and will likely have to pay bail in order to be released. In misdemeanor cases, bail will usually only be court costs or a small fine. In more serious cases, however, bail can be set at an extremely high price. If you are arrested at a time when court is not in session, you may be held in jail until you can be brought before a judge.
There are innumerable scenarios in which you could have an interaction with a police officer, any of which can result in your arrest if you have an outstanding bench warrant. It is thus crucial to resolve a bench warrant as soon as you become aware that it has been issued against you. To resolve a bench warrant, you should first contact an experienced criminal defense attorney who can review your paperwork, look at your summons, and prepare an argument to a judge for why you failed to appear and why the judge should remove the warrant. Often, if you have a reasonable explanation prepared, the judge will remove the warrant, set a future court date, and allow you to leave. If the judge considers setting a high bail, your attorney will argue that you are not a flight risk and that bail is not necessary to secure your appearance at your next court date.
At the law firm of Altman & Altman, our team can help you resolve your outstanding bench warrant, ensure that you do not incur any additional charges, and protect your criminal record. We have decades of experience dealing with bench warrants in the greater Boston area and arguing before judges throughout the Commonwealth. We will work diligently to take care of your warrant so that it does not affect other areas of your life.
Call us today for a free and confidential consultation to discuss your case. You will meet with a member of our criminal defense team who can explain the warrant removal process and any collateral consequences that you may need to deal with as well. We will then prepare an argument that explains your absence to the judge, and accompany you to court. Dealing with an outstanding bench warrant can be a stressful process but with the right preparation and with an experienced defense attorney, it can be resolved efficiently and without disrupting your life.