Having a judge issue a warrant for your arrest can be jarring. It can start so small – maybe you get a traffic fine and forget to show up for court. Now you’re in legal trouble for something that could have been prevented. What can you do to clear your warrant?
There are steps you can take to get out from under the judge’s warrant. A criminal defense attorney in California can help. Learn how you may be able to clear your warrant, and if you have more questions about your case, don’t hesitate to contact a lawyer from Simmrin Law Group.
What Is a Warrant?
A warrant is an order that comes from the court for authorities to take someone into custody. The concept of a warrant may seem scary, especially if you’ve seen police procedural shows where a team gets a warrant to break someone’s door down. That’s often not how warrants are carried out.
In fact, there are a number of different types of warrants. You may be familiar with the search warrant, where the court orders law enforcement to search a defendant’s property without their consent. You may also be familiar with an arrest warrant, which an officer can request if they believe that there is probable cause to arrest somebody.
Those aren’t the only types of warrant, though, and they’re not the most common. That would be the bench warrant.
What Is a Bench Warrant?
A bench warrant, outlined by California Penal Code (CPC) §978.5, is a warrant ordered by a judge when someone is guilty of some crime or contempt of court. Bench warrants are most commonly issued for people When someone is ordered to appear in court, even for just a traffic ticket, and they fail to appear, then the court orders a bench warrant.
Bench warrants don’t often mean a dramatic police chase or a SWAT team break-in. Most of the time, authorities don’t even actively pursue bench warrants. Instead, if you’re apprehended for any other reason, usually a routine traffic stop, and an officer sees that a bench warrant has been issued, they will arrest you.
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How to Clear a Bench Warrant
Ultimately, the best way to get a warrant cleared is to hire a lawyer to help. A criminal defense lawyer in California will know how to navigate the court system and what your case requires. In order to get your warrant cleared, you and your attorney may have to:
- Pay your fines or bond
- Appear in court
- Submit a motion to quash a warrant
What Does It Mean to “Quash” a Warrant?
“Quashing” a warrant is throwing it out, much like getting something struck from your criminal record. This is mostly done for search or arrest warrants, and if you want your warrant quashed, it’s best to do so with the help of an experienced attorney.
The quickest and most straightforward way to clear your bench warrant is to simply call the court and turn yourself in. You may be arrested, but unless you’re noncompliant, the process should be fairly easy and you will be in front of a judge in no time.
If you find yourself under a warrant and don’t know where to turn, you can always get a free consultation with our California criminal defense law firm. We’ll listen to your story and tell you what your next steps should be, including how we can help you clear your warrant.
How Long Does a Warrant Last in California?
If a bench warrant is issued in California, it will never expire. The warrant will remain outstanding until you appear in court or a judge quashes. If neither of those things happen, then the warrant will be active for the rest of your life.
That’s not the case for other types of warrants, however. For example, an arrest warrant or a search warrant is only active for as long as you can be prosecuted for the crime that the warrant is for. If the statute of limitations (the expiration date for a crime) passes, then there’s no point in pursuing the warrant.
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Can You Be Arrested for a Warrant for a Traffic Fine?
Yes, even if you were just supposed to go to court for a traffic fine, you can receive a warrant and, subsequently, be arrested. Anyone who is summoned to court is required to go, and no matter the reason you were originally meant to go, failing to appear is a crime.
If, for any reason, you physically cannot make it to your court date, then a lawyer or a clerk in the California court system may be able to get it rescheduled. It can only be for a legitimate reason, though, such as a necessary medical procedure. The courts expect you to move your schedule around for them, not vice-versa.
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Can You Pay Off a Warrant?
No, you cannot just pay off a warrant and have it go away. Often, that is one of the steps in the process of clearing your warrant, as well as the original citation that you may have failed to appear for. However, the warrant process usually includes appearing in front of a judge.
If you’re not sure what to do about your warrant, our firm can help. Our lawyers know the ins and outs of the California court system, and we know warrants. At your free initial consultation, your criminal defense attorney will assess your case and tell you what you need to get your warrant cleared.
Talk to a Criminal Defense Lawyer About Your Warrant in California
Sometimes it can feel like the court system is set up against you. That’s not necessarily true, but if you don’t know how to deal with judges, courts, and officers, then getting out of legal trouble can be difficult. California criminal defense lawyers at Simmrin Law Group want to help.
Call us or contact us online to get your free consultation. Talking to an attorney could be the first step to clearing your warrant.