You hear the term (or some variation thereof) all the time but do you really know what a bench warrant is or how they are issued? Generally speaking, a bench warrant authorizes the on-site arrest of the individual listed in it. Bench warrants are issued by a judge when an individual violates a court rule. Once a bench warrant is issued in Florida, it is treated like any other arrest warrant, with the primary purpose of bringing the individual listed before the court. In these scenarios, the individual will now be responsible for answering for their original charges and also explain why he or she acted in a manner than necessitated the issuance of a bench warrant.
The two most popular reasons for a judge to issue a bench warrant are: failure to appear and some type of probation violation.
- Failure to Appear: When a defendant misses a court appearance, the judge in the case has the option to issue a bench warrant. Whether the court date was forgotten or intentionally missed, the individual may also get hit with additional fines and other penalties for missing their court appearance. The more serious the crime necessitating a pretrial appearance, the more likely that a bench warrant will be issued.
- Probation Violation: As many of you already know, there are countless reasons why an individual is placed on some type of probation. Violating the terms of a probation, no matter how short or limited the probation is, can result in the judge issuing a bench warrant. Courts are usually notified of probation violations by the probation officer in the case.
Bench warrants can be issued for both felony and misdemeanor cases in Florida. Although bench warrants are sometimes referred to as arrest warrants, there are actually some important technical distinctions between a bench warrant and an arrest warrant. To begin, the application for an arrest warrant is started by a police officer rather than a judge. The judge ultimately has to sign off on the arrest warrant (if he or she agrees that there is probable cause) but the reasons behind an arrest warrant versus a bench warrant are much wider in range. Either way, an outstanding bench or arrest warrant is an outstanding headache for everyone involved.
Because court and probation documents will have your address listed (in addition to other personal information), it is usually fairly easy for the police to locate and arrest you. In many instances, a bench warrant can be cleared up and save you the hassle and embarrassment of a formal arrest.
The law firm of Finnenbloom & Haenel P.A. can help resolve any issues you may have with an outstanding bench or arrest warrant. Our lawyers can accompany you to court and explain your situation to the judge. If you are dealing with a bench warrant, give us a call to discuss the options available to you. We represent individuals with outstanding bench warrants and would love to hear from you.