Articles Posted in Bench Warrants

If you have been arrested for a criminal offense, you have not been found guilty. The court has to make a finding of your guilt, either through a full trial, or through a plea entered by you. The very first appearance you make in Court is called an Arraignment.

At the Arraignment, the following things will happen:

  1. You will be asked to enter a plea, whether it is guilty, not guilty, or no contest.
  2. You will be read the offense you are being charged with and the potential consequences you may face
  3. You will have the opportunity to talk to the Prosecutor regarding the charges against you
  4. You will be offered a plea bargain in exchange for your guilty plea

The arraignment is a court ordered appearance. If you are given a citation, it will state on the citation the date you must appear in court. If you fail to appear, it is a court violation referred to as a Failure to Appear.

When you fail to appear in Court, the Judge will order a Bench Warrant. A bench warrant allows officers or other authorities to arrest you at any time and take you into custody. It is highly advisable that if you have failed to appear in court, that you appear as soon as possible to explain your failure to appear to the Judge and hope that the Judge recalls the Bench Warrant.

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Our clients lead busy lives and with work, school, and social obligations. It is often stressful and proves to be difficult for them to clear up the day they are required to appear before the Criminal Judge. Fortunately, once they have retained an Los Angeles Criminal Defense attorney, they are not required by the law to appear in Court. The attorney can appear on their behalf.

It is different for cases that are misdemeanors and for felonies. If the case is a misdemeanor an attorney is able to appear on the person’s behalf without them having to be present. If the case is a felony, the criminal system requires that the person being charged must always appear.

For example, David has been charged with domestic violence. He was stopped on a routine DUI, with nothing out of the ordinary. He did not hit a person or an object, he did not damage any personal property and it was his first DUI. Due to the facts of his case David’s case will be a misdemeanor and a San Diego DUI Attorney will be able to make the appearances on his behalf.

When you have been arrested for a California Criminal charge you will be given a court date upon which you must appear. If you look carefully on the citation it will say that you must appear “on or before” and a date. It is possible to advance your court date

This means that if you cannot appear in Court on the date stated on your citation, you may appear on any day prior to that day. You will have to go to your assigned courtroom and inform the clerk that you are advancing your case to that day. However, you cannot appear AFTER the date stated on your citation. If you do, a warrant will be issued against you.

If you do not appear for your court date, or appear prior to that court date, a bench warrant will be issued against you for no appearance. If a warrant is out against you, police officers or enforcement authorities have the right to arrest you right there on the spot.

When a person has been taken into custody during a criminal arrest or charge, they will remain in custody until a bail has been set. Most often, the person is released and bail is set in 4 to 5 hours. However, in some situations, the person will remain in custody until a hearing is conducted on what amount to set bail.

The cases in which a hearing will be required in order to be released on bail, are cases that the Court feels are very serious, and ones in which the Court believes there is a flight risk, or the person will be a risk to society.

The Judge will look at many different factors to conclude that a person is a flight risk. For example, if the person has many past bench warrants, it is a reasonable conclusion to make that the person does not take their court dates very seriously and is likely to not appear. A bench warrant is issued when a person does not appear on a scheduled court date. When the person does not appear the Judge will issue the warrant and officers are to bring the person into custody if he or she is found.

When a person is asked by the Court to appear on a certain date, it is extremely important that they adhere to the request. If it is absolutely implausible for them to be able to make the scheduled hearing, they must take steps to inform the court or to change the date.

When the scheduled appearance is missed, a Bench Warrant is issued on the person who failed to appear. A Bench Warrant is an order made by the Judge that allows law enforcement to pick up the person and bring them before the Judge to explain their failure to appear. This allows police to bring you into court if you are pulled over for any routine stop, and give them the right to come to your house and take you to court.

A failure to appear can become a serious issue, if not taken care of right away. It not only gives off a negative impression of a person, but also causes unnecessary hassle in your life.

When a person is charged with a Los Angeles Criminal case they are required by state law to be placed on Probation depending on the offense. There are over 100s of different offenses in the California Penal code and each will yield difference consequences. Potential sentences may include jail time, a fine to be paid, education classes to be completed, and/or restitution.

The sentence will include one of two types of probation, informal and formal. Informal probation is generally the case for misdemeanor charges. Petty theft will generally be given informal probation which is unsupervised. Formal probation on the other hand requires that a person check in with a deputy probation officer and is strictly enforced. Charges like felony hit and run, or theft will require formal probation after a jail sentence has been served.

There are two type of probation violations: external and internal. An internal probation violation results when a person fails to complete required education classes, pay a fine, fail a required drug test or fail to report to a probation officer ( in cases of formal probation). An external violation results when a similar crime is committed within the probationary period.

A failure to appear can result from a variety of different circumstances, including not appearing in court after receiving a ticket or moving violations by the date or deadline listed on the violation citation. Signing the bottom of a ticket for a moving violation is acknowledging that you promise to appear by the court date set on the ticket. Another common reason for clients receiving failures to appear is by not paying your fine or completing your community service by the date set by the court.

A bench warrant is similar to a failure to appear, except they are ordered by a Judge in a misdemeanor or felony case. Once a bench warrant has been ordered, a bail amount is set by the judge. Essentially a bail or bond amount is the amount of money that must be posted by the person in custody to obtain their release. There are two ways to a obtain a person’s release who is in custody. The most common way is to retain the services of a qualified bail bondsman who can obtain one’s release for a fee of 8 to 10% of the bond amount. Frequently a bondsman requires some security like owning a house or other property in the jurisdiction where the person is in custody. Another less frequently used method is for the bond amount to be posted by paying the face value with a cashier’s check or money order. There is no loss of any of this money and no fee is charged by the court as long as the defendant makes all scheduled court appearances and is in full compliance with court orders.

Common causes of bench warrants are failing to appear in any scheduled court date or failing to comply with a court order like attending and alcohol program, paying a fine, completing community service or showing progress on any term or condition of probation. Another common source of a bench warrant is having the defendant violate his probation by being arrested for a similar charge or other offense.