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August 7, 2020

What Is a Bench Warrant?

By Hager & Schwartz, P.A.

August 3, 2020

Unlike other warrants, bench warrants aren’t used to arrest people accused of committing a crime. Instead, they’re issued by a judge from the bench while the court is in session. Bench warrants give law enforcement the power to arrest someone who has violated a rule of the court.

Why Are Bench Warrants Issued?

Most bench warrants are issued when someone fails to appear for a court date. If you don’t appear for a court hearing, the judge will usually find you to be in contempt. If you are in contempt, you are willfully disobeying the court or ignoring a court order. You can also be held in contempt if you interfere with court proceedings or engage in rude or insulting behavior toward the court.

When Are Bench Warrants Issued?

If someone is found to be in contempt, the judge will tell the court why he is holding that person in contempt. Failure to show up for a court date is just one reason for issuing a bench warrant. There are other reasons, as well:

  • Not appearing for jury duty.
  • Failing to follow a restraining order.
  • Not showing up to testify after being subpoenaed.
  • Failing to make court-ordered child support payments.
  • Denying child visitation rights.
  • Defaulting on a judgment.
  • Not paying fines.
  • Not showing up for court-ordered educational programs.
  • Violating probation.
  • Committing a crime while out on bail.
  • Failing to comply with bail restrictions.

What Happens If I Get a Bench Warrant?

If you receive proper notice of a court date but intentionally do not appear, you may be charged with failure to appear and held in contempt. If your bench warrant involves failure to appear, the judge might dismiss the case or automatically rule in favor of the other party.

How Can I Defend Myself?

At the hearing, you’ll be given an opportunity to tell the judge why you did not appear and otherwise provide proof that you were not in contempt. You can demonstrate to the court that you were the victim of unforeseen circumstances. A variety of scenarios can provide a valid defense:

  • You had an accident on the way to court.
  • You had a previously-scheduled court appearance.
  • You didn’t receive proper notice of a court date.
  • You were seriously ill.
  • There was a death in your family.
  • A natural disaster prevented your appearance.

Do I Need Legal Representation for Broward Bench Warrants?

Legal charges like bench warrants are best handled by skilled Broward defense attorneys. The team at Hager & Schwartz, P.A. can explain the charges against you, appear with you in court, and defend your rights.

Contact us today at (954) 840-8713 to learn how we may assist you.