A bench warrant is a legal order for arrest handed down by a judge. In California, bench warrants are only used in specific situations, most often when someone is considered to be in contempt of court. Bench warrants are not the same as an arrest warrant.
You can learn more about the uses of a bench warrant right here. Focus on the legal applications of a bench warrant with the Simmrin Law Group. Call us at (310) 896-2723 if you need help handling a bench warrant issued against you.
Legal Uses of a Bench Warrant in California
Judges in California can issue a bench warrant for the arrest of anyone who is in contempt of court. Bench warrants are commonly issued for anyone who:
- Fails to pay court-ordered fines
- Fails to obey orders from the court
- Fails to appear in court for any hearings
Note that bench warrants are not issued to arrest someone for a crime. Arrest warrants are used in this circumstance and, while they are similar to a bench warrant, they are handled differently by the criminal justice system.
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Bench Warrants and Indictments in California
Thus far, we have discussed bench warrants as they relate to contempt of court accusations. Judges can also issue a bench warrant if an individual:
- Is indicted by a grand jury BUT
- They are not in custody at the time of the indictment
Note that bench warrants do not expire in most cases, regardless of the initial reason they were issued. They will remain on an individual’s record until they are legally resolved. Generally, a judge must remove a bench warrant in California.
A criminal defense lawyer in Los Angeles can help with the removal of a bench warrant. Call (310) 896-2723 to find out more about this process.
Steps to Execute a Bench Warrant in California
Law enforcement officers are responsible for executing a bench warrant in California. They are required to move quickly to execute bench warrants. Bench warrants for misdemeanor and felony offenses are treated differently. Misdemeanor warrants must generally be executed between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m.
Felony warrants, however, can be executed regardless of the time of day. Additionally, in some cases, the court may allow officers to serve a misdemeanor warrant in the night if they have “good cause.” Good cause may be established if someone:
- Has a history of ignoring court orders
- Has multiple warrants outstanding for their arrest
Once an individual is arrested for a bench warrant, law enforcement officers will bring them before a judge in California. Depending on an individual’s situation, they may be brought to:
- The judge that issued their warrant
- Any judge in the county where they were arrested
- Any judge in the county where the warrant was issued
The judge will determine how the arrested individual will be handled. In some cases, individuals will be released with a warning. However, a bench warrant can lead to incarceration in some circumstances.
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Criminal Charges and Bench Warrants in California
As we mentioned, bench warrants are not issued in response to a criminal act. However, individuals in California may face criminal charges if they do not appear in court when so ordered. Failure to appear is prosecuted as a misdemeanor or a felony under Article 10 § 1320 of the California penal code.
Individuals in California who are convicted of failure to appear can face serious legal consequences. A misdemeanor conviction can lead to:
- Fines of up to $1,000
- Jail time of up to six months
Felony charges for failure to appear can result in higher fines and a harsher period of incarceration.
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Handling a California Bench Warrant
Only a judge can clear a bench warrant in California. This means that bench warrants must be handled in court. In some situations, a lawyer can handle court appearances for you if you have a bench warrant. In other situations, you will have to go to court with your lawyer.
You may turn yourself in for a bench warrant, and this is sometimes recommended. However, you should speak to a criminal defense lawyer before surrendering yourself to court custody. A lawyer may be able to help you clear your warrant while avoiding an arrest, jail time, or high fines.
Contact a Lawyer to Focus on Bench Warrants
A judge in California can order your arrest with a bench warrant. You can get help handling a bench warrant against you by contacting the Simmrin Law Group. Our team of legal professionals can work to get the warrant dismissed for you. Find out more about your options with a FREE consultation.
Call us at (310) 896-2723 or fill out our online contact form to speak to a criminal defense lawyer in Los Angeles now.