Active bench warrants are a type of warrant issued by a judge where you must come to the courthouse to clear it, or it will never expire. These warrants are usually handed out to people because of their noncompliance with the legal system or court orders. Common ways to be issued a bench warrant include:
- Failing to show up to your mandated court date
- Failing to obey court orders
- Failing to pay fines ordered by the court
- Failing to appear as a witness in court
- Failing to pay a traffic violation ticket
- Failing to pay child support
Failure to Appear in Court (FTA)
Failure to appear in court (FTA) is the most prevalent cause of judges issuing bench warrants. Along with failing to appear in court and being given a bench warrant, you will also be found to be in contempt of court. This can come with its own set of penalties, including:
- Suspension of driver’s license
- Probation violation
- Expensive fines
- Increased or forfeited bail
- More jail time
It would not be wise to skip your court date for all of the above reasons. Even if you believe that you are innocent and there is no reason to show up to court, it is still the smartest move to do so.
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How to Find Out if You Have a Bench Warrant
It is never a good feeling to wonder whether there are warrants for your arrest. If you missed your court date, it would be in your best interests to check if you have an outstanding bench warrant for your arrest. Police can arrest you at any given moment for an active bench warrant.
There are a few different ways to determine whether you have active warrants. These include checking county court and sheriff records online for free. You can also contact your local police department to see if you have active warrants for a local/county court.
It is important to know that this option is risky. This is because any active warrants found will lead to the police arresting you immediately.
To determine if you have any active warrants for federal courts, you can always check with your district court and US Marshalls. They can search the warrant information system database for active warrants. Hiring an attorney to find out if you have active bench warrants is never a bad idea. This is also nice because they can help resolve the issue if you do indeed have active bench warrants.
Is There Bail for a Bench Warrant?
Once you have been arrested for the active bench warrant, there is a bail bond. Once you post bail, you will be released from custody and given a new mandated court date. The bail for a bench warrant is typically large enough to cover both the original matter and the failure to appear in court.
If you posted bail for the original matter but missed the court date, the bail is then forfeited. Having a convincing reason why you missed the original court date could allow a judge to let you get the bail back or credit towards any outstanding fines.
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How Long Do You Have to Stay in Jail?
One of the consequences of being found in contempt of court is serving jail time. According to California Penal Code §853.7, anyone who knowingly misses their court date has officially committed a crime. When the offender violates a written promise to appear in court, then they are guilty of a misdemeanor charge. How long you must stay in jail depends on the contents of the original crime you are accused of.
A pending misdemeanor case can get you up to six months in jail with no bail. A pending felony case can get you a year of jail time with no bail or a prison sentence of up to three years. A bench warrant for failure to pay the court can land you infractions or misdemeanor charges if the judge finds that it was due to willful negligence. However, this will not typically grant you jail time.
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How Do You Clear an Active Bench Warrant?
Once people find out that they have active bench warrants, they want to find out the fastest and easiest way to clear them. This is called ”recalling and quashing” the warrant because it will be wiped away from the judicial system. Having compelling evidence for missing your court date is the best way for the bench warrant to be nullified or declared invalid.
Missing the court date for a pending misdemeanor case is not as bad as missing the court date of a pending felony case. This is because your defense attorney can get the bench warrant recalled and quashed in your absence. You must be present to have a bench warrant cleared if it is for a pending felony case. The only other way to have the bench warrant voided relied solely upon the judge.
A warrant, including a bench warrant, that is not served within a reasonable amount of time after the issuance can be dismissed. This is because your constitutional right to a speedy trial has been violated. This is a rare exception. Having your defense lawyer fight for your bench warrant to be recalled and dismissed can increase the likelihood of it being cleared entirely.
What to Do if You Have an Active Bench Warrant
After checking in with your county court and its warrant information system database, you may find out that you have an active bench warrant. There is no need to panic because there are ways to resolve this. It is in your best interests to hire a bench warrant lawyer from the Simmrin Law Group.
We have over 15 years of experience successfully litigating bench warrant cases in the state of California. We also intend to fight for the active bench warrant to be recalled and quashed or to have the penalizes minimized. Reach out to Simmrin today and receive a free evaluation of your case.