Bench warrants are the most common type of warrant issued in California. Bench warrants are issued by a judge “from the bench,” usually for failing to appear in court, pay a fine, or comply with some other court order. What’s the best way to deal with a bench warrant? What about other warrants? You’re about to learn how to clear or remove a warrant with your name on it.
Failing to appear in court, pay a fine, or comply with some other court order is considered contempt of court. For contempt of court, you could be fined, jailed, or have your driver’s license suspended. Probationers found in contempt of court will probably also be charged with a violation of probation. If a grand jury indicts you, a bench warrant will probably also be issued.
A California bench warrant orders police officers to place you in custody and transport you directly to the court. In the courtroom, the judge will either give you a warning or have you placed in jail. A bench warrant can be cleared and removed by a process that lawyers call “recalling and quashing” the warrant.
WHAT IS “RECALLING AND QUASHING” A WARRANT?
Your lawyer can sometimes have a bench warrant recalled and quashed on your behalf, but if the warrant arises from your failure to comply with a court order arising from a felony case, you must be present with your lawyer to have it cleared. Without regard to the reason for a bench warrant, if your name is on it, reach out to an experienced Orange County criminal defense attorney for the legal help you’ll need.
Like an arrest warrant in the state of California, a bench warrant must also be executed in a reasonable amount of time. If it’s not, your constitutional right to a “speedy” trial may have been violated, and your defense attorney can ask the court to have the warrant dismissed on that basis.
Of course, if you know that a bench warrant has been issued with your name on it, going directly to the court – and avoiding the complications involved with being arrested – is the best and quickest way to deal with the warrant. Do not fail to take an experienced Orange County criminal defense attorney into court with you. You must protect yourself.
Otherwise, you might end up going straight from the courtroom to the county jail. An experienced criminal defense attorney is familiar with the strategies and the steps it will take to persuade a judge to either recall and quash the bench warrant or to have you released on your own recognizance – “O.R.” – or with reduced bail instead of being held in custody.
HOW DO “BENCH” WARRANTS DIFFER FROM “ARREST” WARRANTS?
A California bench warrant calls for someone’s arrest, but what is called an “arrest warrant” is a slightly different document, because the term “arrest warrant” usually refers to a warrant to have someone arrested because that person is being charged with a crime. California judges issue arrest warrants based on evidence presented by police authorities or prosecutors.
To obtain a warrant for a criminal suspect’s arrest, a prosecutor and/or the police officers must have – and must persuade a judge – that there is “probable cause” to believe that a crime has been committed by the suspect they seek to arrest. “Probable cause” is evidence that supports the reasonable belief that the person being named should be arrested and face a criminal charge.
Arrest warrants are usually served at a defendant’s workplace or residence. Some arrests are made at traffic stops. When California police officers execute an arrest warrant at a private residence, they may use force to enter the premises only if there is probable cause to believe that the suspect is inside and is refusing to respond.
WHAT ARE THE RULES FOR EXECUTING ARREST WARRANTS?
To make an arrest, a police officer in California does not need to possess an actual hard copy of an arrest warrant. The knowledge that an arrest warrant is active is sufficient. If a driver with a pending arrest warrant is stopped in traffic, for example, and a police officer “runs the license” and learns of the pending arrest warrant, that officer can make the arrest on the spot.
Arrest warrants for felony charges can be executed at any time, but a misdemeanor arrest warrant, in most cases, may be executed only from 6:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. A judge may specify an exception, however, and if the arrest happens in traffic or a public setting, the time limits won’t apply.
An arrest warrant in the state of California must name the person to be placed in custody and must also specify the charge, the date and time that the warrant is issued, the name of the court and the judge, and the judge’s exact title. The warrant becomes active with the judge’s signature.
WHAT’S THE BEST WAY TO RESOLVE A BENCH OR ARREST WARRANT?
If suspect flees the state after learning that a bench warrant or an arrest warrant with his or her name has been issued by a judge, that suspect becomes a fugitive from justice, and when apprehended, that person may be extradited back to California. Don’t flee a warrant – get it resolved the right way. Have yourself represented in court by an experienced Orange County criminal defense attorney.
The bail schedule in each California jurisdiction predetermines most bail amounts, but a good defense lawyer may be able to have the bail amount reduced or the suspect released on his or her own recognizance. No bail is available to suspects charged with a capital crime, a violent felony, a sexual assault, or a crime involving a threat of great bodily harm.
If you are under investigation for any crime in California, or if there is a pending bench warrant or arrest warrant ordering your arrest, contact an experienced Orange County criminal defense attorney at once. Every case is different, so you must have a defense attorney’s personalized advice and representation.
Whether it’s a simple appeal to the judge, negotiating with a prosecutor to reduce or drop the charge, or defending you in a trial against a serious criminal accusation, an experienced defense lawyer will fight aggressively for justice on your behalf and bring the case against you to its best possible resolution.