A bench warrant is an arrest warrant that comes straight from a judge (presumably sitting on their bench) and is usually due to failure to appear in court over a civil matter such as a ticket, simple traffic case, or a child custody case. It's never okay to skip a scheduled hearing without just cause, and failure to attend will almost always have consequences. The purpose of a bench warrant is to deter defendants from missing their court ordered appointments. A bench warrant is different from an arrest warrant, in the sense that with an arrest warrant law enforcement is actively looking for the person to arrest. This is usually due to more serious matters like robbery, assault, or worse.
How A Bench Warrant Works
Since bench warrants typically come from a less serious crime, it's a more passive situation that doesn't usually involve an immediate arrest. According to Florida Statute 901.11, "Failure to appear as commanded by a summons without good cause is an indirect criminal contempt of court and may be punished by a fine of not more than $100. When a person fails to appear as commanded by a summons, the trial court judge shall issue a warrant."
If you are served with a bench warrant, your name goes into the state's database and you are only likely to be arrested if you come into contact with law enforcement. This could be because of another charge, or if you're pulled over for a traffic violation, or even by being the one not at fault during a fender bender. Once they run your license, they will receive a notification of the pending warrant and will make an arrest on site.
You'll likely be held until you pay bail which is usually the cost of the court fees and fines from the case that resulted in the bench warrant, plus a few more and you'll be assigned a new court date to deal with the matter.
Do You Have A Bench Warrant In Place?
In order to have the bench warrant removed you'll need to call the clerk of courts to pay the outstanding fines and potential bail upfront, allowing for the warrant to be recalled. Having an experienced criminal defense attorney in your corner can be helpful in explaining your situation and validating your reasoning for failing to appear the first time causing the bench warrant to be put into place. Give Russell Spatz a call at (305) 442-0200 to help fix your pending bench warrant situation.
Bench Warrant - Definition, Examples, Cases, Processes. (2015, October 11). Retrieved from http://www.legaldictionary.net/bench-warrant/
(2019, March 21). Retrieved from http://www.leg.state.fl.us/Statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&URL=0900-0999/0901/0901.html