What’s the Difference Between a Bench and Arrest Warrant?

Bench warrant and arrest warrant

It can be scary to learn there’s a warrant out for you, and it could make you feel like someone is out to get you. However, it could be a bench warrant rather than an arrest warrant, and it’s important to understand the difference between the two types of warrants.

Most people know an arrest warrant means police have been authorized to arrest you and have you detained. Not as many know what a bench warrant is or how it’s different from an arrest warrant. Either way, if you’re the subject of a bench or arrest warrant, you have the right to fair treatment by the criminal justice system. Contact an experienced criminal defense attorney to review your case. 

What is an Arrest Warrant?

An arrest warrant is granted by a judge who has been presented with probable cause for the arrest of a suspect. Law enforcement officers usually need arrest warrants to detain people they believe committed crimes they didn’t witness. To get a warrant, a police officer submits a written affidavit to a judge or magistrate showing facts to establish probable cause that a suspect committed a crime, and that the person named in the warrant committed it.

Once police officers have an arrest warrant, they can place you under arrest and search your person and the plain view area where they detained you. However, an arrest warrant is different from a search warrant, so police are not authorized at that point to search your home, car, or other location that’s not in plain view. If the arresting officer asks if they can search your home or car, you have the right to refuse the search, and are encouraged to do so.

What is a Bench Warrant?

A bench warrant is commonly issued when someone fails to comply with a court order, prompting the court to hold that individual in contempt. The bench warrant authorizes the police officer to arrest you and bring you before a judge. Examples of when contempt charges can lead to a bench warrant being issued include:

  • Failing to show up for a court hearing
  • Ignoring a subpoena ordering you to testify in a case
  • Violating the terms of your probation
  • Failing to pay a ticket for a traffic violation
  • Failing to pay court-ordered child support

It’s also possible for a judge to issue a bench warrant for someone who fails to report for jury duty. Bench warrants show up in criminal background checks and stay in the police database until they expire. It’s possible that once the individual has been brought before the judge, the judge might give that person a chance to correct the behavior that prompted the judge to issue the bench warrant.

What to Do if You Have a Warrant Out for Your Arrest

The first thing to do is to contact an experienced attorney who can guide you through the criminal process and provide quality representation in court. Even if you’ve been arrested, you have a right to defend yourself against the charges you face with the aid of an attorney.

The worst thing you could do is try to hide from the police. If you think the charges are not valid, or that the police mistook you for someone else, ignoring the warrant doesn’t fix the issue. Obtaining legal representation from a criminal defense attorney means you now have someone you can trust to get the facts of your case and protect your rights. A knowledgeable attorney will know the most effective arguments to make on your behalf and what evidence to offer the judge in your favor.

Hire a Credible Orange County Criminal Defense Attorney

You can trust The Umansky Law Firm to resolve your bench or arrest warrant. We have more than 100 years of combined experience representing individuals across Central Florida and have helped countless clients win back their lives. Our goal is to give every case the representation it deserves by getting to know you and the circumstances surrounding your charges. As former prosecutors, we bring a unique point of view to the table and know how to win even the toughest cases.

Don’t let your life be defined by a single mistake. Hire our team of lawyers to represent you today. We are highly rated on Avvo.com and are among Florida Trend’s Florida Legal Elite.

Schedule a free consultation by calling 407-228-3838 or contact us. We believe you deserve a second chance.