What is an Arrest Warrant?
A police officer does not need an arrest warrant to take you into custody. This typically occurs when an officer sees you commit a crime. However, in many cases an arrest is made when there is an arrest warrant. In the state of California, an arrest warrant can be issued by a judge at the request of a police officer. Arrest warrants are issued when evidence is presented by prosecutors or police officials to a judge or following an indictment by a grand jury.
An arrest warrant may include a suspect’s name, the date and time that the warrant is being issued, the charge, and the name of the judge, court, and jurisdiction. To be executed, a judge must sign the warrant.
An arrest warrant may expire if the statute of limitations is up. However, if there is an active arrest warrant with your name on it, you should seek the help of a defense attorney.
What is the Difference Between a Bench Warrant and an Arrest Warrant?
A bench warrant is issued by a California judge, and is so named because it comes “from the bench.” Unlike an arrest warrant, a bench warrant does not necessarily link to criminal activity. A bench warrant can be issued for failing to appear for a scheduled court date, failing to pay a court-ordered fine or failure to complete classes, counseling, treatment, community service, or any other court-ordered activity. Any failure to obey an order of a California court can result in a bench warrant being issued.
A bench warrant is handled similarly to an arrest warrant. The individual named on the bench warrant will be taken into custody and brought before a judge. The details of the warrant, testimony, and evidence will be presented to the judge, who may or may not order a penalty, such as a fine, suspension of a driver’s license, or even jail time.
Unlike some arrest warrants, bench warrants are not subject to a statute of limitations and do not “go away” after a long period of time. In fact, a bench warrant remains outstanding until the subject of the warrant deals with it or the judge recalls or revokes it.
How Do You Learn About Old Bench Warrants?
With the advent of computerized databases, individuals can easily determine if they are named in an outstanding bench warrant, even if it is decades old. Oftentimes, employers or insurance providers can uncover this information when they conduct a background check on an individual. In addition, some discover that there is a bench warrant issued for them when they go to renew their license and are unable to as long as the warrant is active. Customs authorities will also detain individuals who have active bench warrants as they try to reenter the country.
What Should You Do If A Bench Warrant Is Issued for You?
If you find yourself taken into custody because of an arrest warrant or bench warrant, evoke your right to remain silent after asking for an attorney to be present during questioning. Anything you say can be used against you in court by authorities. You have the right to remain silent and to seek council from a local attorney.
In some cases, appearing in court regarding a bench warrant could lead to you being placed in custody. When appearing before a judge, he or she may determine that the bench warrant should not be recalled and can order a bailiff to arrest you on the spot. When seeking the help of a defense attorney, he or she may be able to have the warrant “quashed,” which would resolve the matter. If you are arrested, a defense attorney will be prepared to advocate for you.
California law clearly lays out when bench warrants and arrest warrants may be executed. A felony bench or arrest warrant may be executed at any hour. A misdemeanor bench or arrest warrant can only be served between 6:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. unless a judge indicates otherwise or the warrant is served at a public location. Remember that if you discover from your employer, the California DMV, immigration authorities, or any other source that an old bench warrant for you is still active, dismissal will depend on the amount of time that has elapsed and the severity of the original crime, charge, or violation. Though a bench warrant does not expire, both bench and arrest warrants must be executed within a reasonable length time. You have the constitutional right to a speedy trial. If this right is violated because the police did not act promptly on the arrest or bench warrant, your attorney may be able to have the case dismissed.
If an arrest or bench warrant has been issued for you, seek the help of a knowledgeable and skilled criminal defense attorney. Contact us today by calling (949) 264-2114.