Having a warrant can be a scary thing, knowing that in any moment you can be taken to jail is not a risk anyone wants to take, and this is when you know it is possible. Imagine not knowing there is a warrant out for your arrest and you come in contact with a police officer for any reason, and you’re arrested. Bench warrants stem from simple infractions like an unpaid traffic ticket, missing a court date from a small speeding ticket, or simply forgetting you had a court date at all.
This is not to assume that you are on an FBI’s most wanted list, but a bench warrant informs law enforcement that a judge wants or needs to see you. This is how the judge communicates with you. An arrest warrant insinuates that a judge wants you arrested; the reason does not matter and may not be shared with law enforcement so when the arrest happens they may not be able to inform you. With a bench warrant, usually your bail totals in the amount of fees that may be due or any court costs. Once those fines are paid, you are released from jail and given a new court date. Because most bench warrants stem from a failure to appear to court matter, if you miss the court date again, a bench warrant will be issued again.
There are times when individuals genuinely forget or do not know about a court date, but in the event that you have had any contact with law enforcement for any reason in the past, you should find out so that you are not surprised by an arrest should you be stopped for a missing taillight. You can contact the clerk of the court in the arrest the encounter took place and verify if there is a bench warrant for you. They can also let you know how much you owe the court and instead of being arrested, in most cases, you can make the payment and receive a new court date without going to jail at all.
Bench warrants can be tricky and some may be easily avoidable while others are not, speak with a skilled criminal defense attorney to see what options you have should it not be so simple for you. Make the call to the courts, and a criminal defense attorney in Atlanta, GA to ensure that no matter what, you get the best possible outcome should you have a bench warrant in your name.
Thanks to Andrew R. Lynch, P.C. for their insight into criminal law and bench warrants.