A bench warrant is a warrant issued by the judge for failure to appear in court, failure to comply with a court order, or for a probation violation.
As a traffic ticket attorney, I’ve served clients who are shocked when a bench warrant was issued for what they thought was a minor traffic infraction.
Why Would a Bench Warrant be Issued for a Traffic Ticket?
Usually in Los Angeles County, when you fail to appear on a traffic ticket, your case will be referred to the collections agency GC Services.
Sometimes, your ticket will stay with the court and a bench warrant will be issued instead. This is because when you fail to appear on a traffic ticket, you are in violation of Vehicle Code 40508 (violation of your promise to appear in court).
Whether your case is sent to GC Services or a bench warrant is issued, a hold will be placed on your driver’s license, which will turn into a driver’s license suspension if you do nothing about it. Before you know it, you may be facing a driving on a suspended license charge.
If I Show in Court on a Bench Warrant Can They Take me into Custody?
The purpose of a bench warrant is to motivate you to come to court as you were originally ordered to do. Many are afraid of going to court once a bench warrant has been issued because they don’t want to be taken into custody if they appear in court.
Bench Warrant for Traffic Infraction
In the case of a traffic infraction, you cannot be taken into custody because you cannot serve jail time for an infraction (an infraction, by definition, is punishable by fines only).
However, it’s still very important to take care of a traffic ticket bench warrant due to the hold that will be placed on your license if you do nothing about it.
Bench Warrant for Misdemeanor and Felony Cases
For misdemeanor and felony cases, when a bench warrant is issued, you can certainly be taken into custody after appearing in court. It is entirely in the judge’s discretion on how to proceed when a bench warrant has been issued.
If you violated your probation several times, chances are the judge may decide to take you in to custody to serve jail time for your failure to comply with your sentence. If this is your first probation violation, depending on the reason for the violation, the court may decide to warn you, punish you further, or in the worse case scenario – take you into custody.
How an Attorney Can Help with Your Bench Warrant
In the case of a bench warrant for a traffic ticket infraction, an attorney can calendar a court date for you to clear the hold from your license, arraign your case, and fight your ticket in court.
When your bench warrant pertains to a misdemeanor or felony case, an attorney can appear in court for you without you present, and speak to the judge on your behalf. This is a “safe” way to get your warrant cleared (“quashed” is the legal term), so that you avoid being taken into custody.
Sometimes the judge will want you personally present in court. Even if this is the case, your attorney can go to court first to find out exactly what the judge wants in order to recall the warrant. Sometimes your attorney can get the court to “hold” the warrant until you come to court, and get an idea of what the judge wants to see happen. This way, you can come to court prepared to appease the judge for the warrant to be recalled.
Get Help with Your Bench Warrant
If you have a bench warrant, whether for a traffic ticket, misdemeanor, or felony case, an attorney can prove to be extremely valuable in helping you stay out of jail. An attorney can go to court for you, and can help assuage an angry judge.
If you’re interested in hiring me (Attorney Paul Denni) to take care of your bench warrant for you, you can call me at 888-250-8450 for a free consultation. If you’d like me to contact you, please fill out the contact form below.