The Complete Guide on How to Get a Warrant Lifted
Having an outstanding bench warrant against you can make life very stressful. You never know when a police officer might show up at your home or work to arrest you. A police officer could pull you over while your children are in the car, which could be a disaster if the officer arrests you on an outstanding warrant.
With the help of a lawyer, you can lift or clear the bench warrant. In addition to learning how to get a warrant lifted, it is helpful to understand more about bench warrants, including what they are and why they are issued.
What Is a Bench Warrant?
Bench warrants are extremely common in California. They are called “bench” warrants because they are issued from “the bench,” which means the judge issues the warrant. A bench warrant is different from an arrest warrant or search warrant, even though a bench warrant can still result in your arrest.
A bench warrant is not issued based on the belief that someone has committed a crime. Judges issue bench warrants when a person does not do something ordered by the court. Failing to follow an order by the court is contempt of court.
Reasons a judge might issue a bench warrant include, but are not necessarily limited to:
- Failing to obey an order of the court
- Failing to pay fines
- Failing to appear in court
- Failing to report for jury duty
- Failing to report as a witness or party in a trial
- Failing to pay court-ordered spousal support or child support payments
- Refusing to allow a court-ordered parent visitation
- Violation of the terms of your probation
It is important to note that bench warrants generally do not expire. You may forget about failing to appear in court or pay a fine, but the court does not forget.
A police officer could execute the bench warrant years later when you are pulled over for speeding, or you are ordered to appear for jury duty. Any interaction with a police officer could result in the officer running your identification and discovering the outstanding bench warrant.
What Happens After an Arrest for a Bench Warrant?
Depending on the reason for the bench warrant, a judge may sentence you to a variety of penalties for contempt of court. Potential sentences for contempt of court on a bench warrant could include:
- Additional fines and fees
- A jail or prison sentence
- Suspension of your driver’s license
- Forfeiting bail, if you are out of jail on bail
Instead of waiting to be arrested, you may want to work with a criminal defense lawyer to get the warrant lifted.
How To Get a Warrant Lifted in California
Lifting or removing a bench warrant means the warrant is cleared from the system. The way you get the warrant lifted depends on why the warrant was issued.
If the warrant is old, a warrants lawyer might be able to have the warrant quashed if it relates to a trial. Your lawyer can argue that you were not afforded a speedy trial and the bench warrant should therefore be recalled.
If the reason the bench warrant was issued had to do with unpaid fines or a failure to appear for a misdemeanor offense, your lawyer might be able to have the bench warrant recalled without you attending court. However, if the bench warrant relates to a felony case, you must appear in court.
Your lawyer may also argue that you were not aware of the fine or action that resulted in a contempt of court. You may also argue that you never received notice to appear in court or provide evidence that you complied with the conditions and requirements of the court order.
Do Not Ignore a Bench Warrant
You must take some action to clear a bench warrant. It is unlikely to go away without action on your part. Ignoring the bench warrant can make matters worse.
While appearing in court with your lawyer to deal with the bench warrant could result in immediate incarceration, it can be preferable to being arrested in front of your coworkers, friends, or children. Turning yourself in for a bench warrant means you can face the warrant head-on.
If you know you have an outstanding bench warrant or arrest warrant, the time to talk to a criminal defense lawyer is now. Your lawyer can analyze the facts of the case to develop the best strategy for dealing with the warrant. Keeping you out of jail and decreasing the negative consequences of a warrant are your attorney’s top priorities.