If you have a bench warrant out for your arrest, you may be nervous about the possibility of police showing up at your home or job. You have every reason to be concerned but you shouldn't panic. Here's what you should understand about bench warrants and how to handle them.
Understand the nature of a bench warrant.
There's a subtle difference between regular arrest warrants and bench warrants that most people don't realize. A regular arrest warrant is usually issued by a prosecutor when you're suspected of a crime. The police will try to locate you at your home, your job, and any other place they think you regularly appear.
A bench warrant, however, is a judge's order to pick you up and usually results from your failure to appear when expected at court. One common way that people end up with a bench warrant is by not showing up at traffic court. Another common reason is missing a call for jury duty. Sometimes people don't realize they need to be there until it's too late, sometimes they simply forget, and sometimes they can't make it because they are ill or can't find a babysitter for their children. In any case, bench warrants are generally a low priority in most areas -- you probably won't have the police knocking on your door or tracking you down at your job. You are, however, facing arrest if you're pulled over on the road or even show up at the courthouse to try to resolve the issue.
Know how to resolve one.
Just because bench warrants are generally a low priority doesn't mean that you can ignore them forever. The police will get around to looking for you eventually and you'll have a harder time explaining to the judge why you didn't handle things sooner when they do.
You have two different options to try to handle it without getting arrested. First, you can call the courthouse and explain why you were absent from court. Typically, there are fines associated with the missed court date and the issuance of the bench warrant itself. You can try to make arrangements with the courthouse to come in and pay the fines and get a new court date.
Your second option, which is probably safer, is to call an attorney and let the attorney do the negotiating for you. That way, you don't have to worry that you're being misled and will end up arrested when you show up despite any assurances you've been offered. Your attorney can also represent you when you get to your new court date and help you explain to the judge why you missed the first hearing.
Some judges are understanding about missed dates, but others view it as a serious disrespect for the court. Having an attorney handle the case for you assures the judge that you are taking the matter seriously. If you're worried about your legal situation, look to http://www.ourbendlawyer.com or contact an attorney in your area to figure out your options.