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Everything You Need to Know about Bench Warrants in California

A bench warrant, also known as a body attachment, is the most common type of warrant issued in the state of California. While any warrant can feel overwhelming, a bench warrant differs drastically from an arrest warrant.

An arrest warrant calls for the arrest of an individual for criminal or questionable conduct. Arrest warrants are released based on evidence provided by prosecutors or law enforcement. In order to create such a warrant, a judge must be persuaded that “probable cause” exists.

A bench warrant, on the other hand, is typically issued for failure to appear in court, failure to pay a fine, or failure to obey a direct court order. In failing to meet these requirements, you risk violating probation, getting a California state prison sentence, facing larger fines, or having your license suspended.

In all fairness, many court dates are missed for purely honest reasons. Scheduling conflicts, a requirement to show up at work, or a simple slip-up can be responsible for a missed date. For this reason, the state of California only issues bench warrants, rather than arrest warrants, for relatively small mistakes.

The Risks of Having an Outstanding Bench Warrant

An outstanding bench warrant may differ from an arrest warrant, but it still gives law enforcement officers the right to arrest you and bring you directly to court. Once in the courtroom, a judge will decide whether to release you with a warning or incarcerate you. This decision will depend on your criminal history and the circumstances surrounding the warrant.

No one wants to live in ongoing fear that they may be arrested and dragged to court. Outstanding warrants can make it difficult to obtain a job, get a line of credit, or otherwise go about your day-to-day activities.

Your Role in Recalling a California Bench Warrant

Known as “recalling and quashing” a bench warrant, the clearing of your warrant from the judicial system will keep you from facing unexpected legal action or related consequences.

If you failed to appear in court or pay a fine, your defense attorney may be able to have your warrant recalled and quashed without your physical presence. However, if you’ve failed to follow a direct court order, you’ll likely need to be present.

The Best Way to Remove a Bench Warrant

 The most efficient way to clear a bench warrant is simple – show up! Go directly to court instead of waiting to be picked up by law enforcement. While you may be able to avoid a bench warrant for years at a time, the consequences become more and more severe.

For example, if you flee the state after learning a bench warrant with your name has been issued, you become an official fugitive from justice. This can be disconcerting after simply missing a court date.

However, if you go to a courtroom willingly, you’ll need to be prepared for incarceration. Insist on bringing a criminal defense attorney with you for protection, since a seasoned judge may dismiss your logical explanation as an excuse.

Consult an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney

If a bench warrant in your name has been issued in California, contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer at Elden Law Group. We specialize in telling the stories of our defendants, helping judges and juries understand your actions, and providing a strong defense.

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