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What is a Bench Warrant?

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What is a Bench Warrant?

by | Apr 16, 2024 | Florida Laws, Traffic Ticket

What is a bench warrant? Can you get one for a traffic citation in Florida? And what do you do if you have one?

Whether it’s from neglecting that pesky stop speeding ticket or other court obligations, understanding bench warrants (and knowing what criminal attorney to turn to for help) can save you from unexpected legal trouble, fees, and possible jail time.

What is a Bench Warrant, and How is it Issued?

A bench warrant is a legal document issued by a judge when a defendant violates the rules of the court and authorizes a person’s arrest. It is called a “bench” warrant because the judge issues it while sitting “on the bench” in the courtroom, so to speak. A bench warrant is generally assigned a bond amount when it is issued.

Once a judge issues a bench warrant, law enforcement may treat it like any other warrant. This usually means seeking out the subject of the warrant for arrest.

Often, the person for whom the warrant is issued has already been charged with a crime but did not appear in court on the designated court date to face a criminal charge. This is known as a bench warrant for failure to appear (FTA). In reality, a judge can issue a bench warrant anytime a person violates the court’s rules.

Bench Warrant vs. Arrest Warrant

Both bench warrants and arrest warrants authorize law enforcement to place the subject of criminal investigation under arrest and bring him to court to face charges. The primary difference is that a judge has sole discretion over the bench warrant process from beginning to end, whereas an arresting officer petitions for an arrest warrant, which a judge signs and issues.

What Happens After a Judge Issues a Bench Warrant?

Following the issuance of a bench warrant, the police officer treats it the same as an arrest warrant; they will attempt to track you down and arrest you, bringing you to court to face your charges.

How Long Does a Bench Warrant Last in Florida?

In Florida, arrest warrants have no expiry date. They remain active until they are served or recalled.

It is not a good idea to ignore a bench or arrest warrant and hope that it will go away on its own. If you discover you have a bench warrant out, it is vital to speak with a criminal lawyer at Florida Ticket Firm as soon as possible, as the consequences can quickly escalate.

Fines and Penalties For Failure to Appear in Florida

Failure to appear is a third-degree offense (meaning a felony) punishable by up to five years’ jail and/or fines of up to $5,000 under Sec. 843.15.

Failing to appear is a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable by up to one year in jail, a fine not exceeding $1,000, or both.

How Do I Know If I Have a Bench or Arrest Warrant in Florida?

If you think you have an outstanding warrant for arrest in Florida, you can try contacting local law enforcement agencies to run a records or background check.

You can also look up court records online or inquire with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

Ignoring a Speeding Ticket in Florida

If you ignore a traffic ticket in Florida, you risk more severe penalties, and the traffic violation may escalate to criminal charges.

If you fail to pay your fine or to appear in court, the court has the right to suspend your driver’s license. The judge may also issue a bench warrant for your arrest.

What If I Can’t Make My Traffic Court Appearance Date?

The general rule is that court dates are essential. Even if you cannot make your court date, it is important to contact your lawyer or local courthouse right away for instructions on how to proceed. Failing to make your court appearance when summoned could result in a bench warrant being issued and additional penalties.

Pay attention to any tickets received and read all the instructions carefully so that you avoid being fined or jailed due to ignorance of the law.

If you receive a traffic ticket in Florida, take action as soon as possible by calling us. Ignoring a ticket in Florida can have serious consequences.

How Do I Get a Bench Warrant Cleared?

You have a few options:

  1. You can surrender to the court or law enforcement.
  2. You can negotiate the parameters of surrendering to the court or law enforcement by seeking legal assistance.

Or, to try to clear a bench warrant and avoid jail, you can ask for a court hearing to dispute the warrant in the case by filing a Motion to Withdraw or Quash the warrant, maintaining that the FTA was unintentional or unavoidable given your circumstances.

These situations can be complex. It’s best to call an attorney at Florida Ticket Firm for assistance in lifting your order from your traffic ticket.

Can a Warrant Be Dropped in Florida?

Suppose a warrant has been issued for a refusal to appear on a required court date. In that case, it is common law for prosecutors and judges to have a capias (a writ or court order for the arrest of a named person) issued relatively immediately.

How Long Can You Be Held On an Out-of-County Warrant in Florida?

Extradition usually takes at least 30 days, but the court may also impose an additional 60 days. The detainee may also be released if the 30-day detention limit is violated.

However, remember that the release doesn’t mean the outstanding arrest warrant is removed or is no longer valid.

Call Florida Ticket Firm Today to Handle Your Traffic Ticket

Got a bench warrant in Florida? It means a judge wants you arrested for not showing up in court or breaking court rules.

You need the right lawyer to determine the best course of action in your legal matters and avoid the potential consequences of a bench warrant. Don’t wait—get help from an experienced criminal defense attorney ASAP at Florida Ticket Firm.