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Bench Warrants

Bench warrants are issued when a person has received a citation from a police officer, or is released from jail, and is expected to show up at court at a specific date and time and does not do so. A bench warrant, issued by a judge, does not represent that an act of criminal behavior occurred, although failure to appear at the designated time may lead to some hefty penalties.

If a person does not show up to court, that is considered a “contempt of court” and a bench warrant is issued, although a “Failure to Appear” (FTA) may be issued first. This allows the police to detain you and bring you to court.

If this happens, you should call a lawyer to attend the court appearance with you. The reasons why a bench warrant is issued, are the following:

  • failed to appear in court at the designated time (as a defendant, as a witness, or juror in a case),
  • failed to pay traffic citations,
  • failed to evacuate a property due to eviction,
  • failed to pay court-ordered spousal support,
  • failed to pay court-ordered child support,
  • did not complete terms of probation or the court-ordered community supervision.

If a person is suspected of committing a crime and evidence has been given to show probable cause, then a judge creates the warrant of arrest

For the first reason listed, there are situations where someone may have just moved and never received the notice to appear. Failure to pay financial obligations may be a result of losing one’s job or having medical issues, all of which can be taken care of in court.

Have a defense attorney go with you to make sure you are properly represented in front of the judge. There is a chance you could go to jail and your attorney will do his or her best to avoid that outcome.

The penalties that might arise for not being in court at the time set, depending on the case and outcome, could amount to a year in a California county jail, loss of driver’s license, and a $1,000 fine.

Arrest Warrant

If a person is suspected of committing a crime and evidence has been given to show probable cause, then a judge creates the warrant of arrest. The police arrest the person named on the warrant, which also includes what he or she is charged with, and they are put in jail. This is the time to call a defense attorney to help navigate the situation towards a better outcome.

Felony Warrant versus Misdemeanor Warrant

The difference between the two is, if a felony warrant (suspected murder, aggravated kidnapping, violent crimes, etc.), the warrant can be issued and acted upon any time of day or night, and in any location.

Misdemeanor warrants are only issued between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. by the judge. However, once issued, the warrants can take place at any time, unless in a public location, such as at a restaurant.

If you have been summoned to court or have been taken in by the police to court, call us at once and let us help you. 619-234-2300 or connect online here.

Author Photo

Kerry L. Armstrong

Attorney Kerry Armstrong opened up his law firm, the Law Offices of Kerry L. Armstrong, APLC, in June 2007. In 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019 Mr. Armstrong was selected for inclusion in the California Super Lawyers list, an honor only awarded to 5% of the nation’s attorneys. In 2017, he was also selected for the Super Lawyers Top 50 in San Diego list. In 2014, he was selected as a Top Attorney by Los Angeles Magazine. Additionally, Mr. Armstrong was also named as a Top Attorney by the San Diego Business Journal in 2014.

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