You can have a warrant or bench warrant issued for a variety of reasons.
Finding out that police are looking for you or that you'll be arrested if you have contact with officers can be extremely scary.
You might worry about spending time in jail if you get arrested.
Will you miss work? What about other life obligations?
You have a lot of questions - but the experienced traffic and criminal defense lawyers at Skubiak & Rivas, P.A. have answers.
What is a Bench Warrant?
A bench warrant is a type of warrant issued for someone’s arrest. If a judge finds that a person is in contempt of court, they will issue a bench warrant. A judge can find you in contempt of court for multiple reasons, which usually involve failing to do something the court has ordered you to do.
The most common reasons for bench warrants are as follows:
- Failing to appear at a hearing, if you were the defendant.
- Being absent when you should have been present to testify in court.
- Failing to pay certain fines.
- Violating your probation requirements, if you are on probation.
- Violating condition of your bail, if you are out on bail.
- Failing to pay child support, after a court orders you to do so.
Keep in mind, a bench warrant is not the same thing as an arrest warrant. A court issues an arrest warrant when someone is a suspect in a crime.
When Can a Lawyer Help You with Your Bench Warrant?
First and foremost, a lawyer can help you navigate the legal system, which can feel complicated and misleading. One common misconception is that you cannot do anything until after your arrest. If you know that you’ve missed a court date or have a bench warrant out, you can address the problem immediately.
Your lawyer will be able to help you determine the best course of action. Sometimes, instead of arresting you, the court will let you schedule a hearing.
Alternatively, the court may permit you to appear at arraignment. This process involves the court presenting you with the charges, and you entering your plea.
Finally, your lawyer can help you turn yourself in, which may be in your best interest.
If police arrest you on a bench warrant, they can hold you until the court schedules a hearing. In that circumstance, you may not post bond. An experienced bench warrant attorney can help make sure that this part of the process goes as quickly as possible.
Once you have your hearing, the court may find you guilty of being in contempt of the court. If you’re found guilty, the court could require you to pay fines or serve jail time. Instead, your attorney may be able to convince the court to set aside the bench warrant if you had compelling reasons for failing to appear.
How Much Jail Time Do You Serve for a Bench Warrant in Florida?
After you’re issued a bench warrant, the potential penalties depend on your situation. It may be that you don’t have to spend any time in jail if your attorney can arrange an agreement with the court.
Once arrested, you may have to stay in jail until the judge schedules your hearing.
Significantly, the bench warrant might result in jail time if you’re ultimately found guilty of contempt. If, for example, you’re out on bail and you fail to appear, the court could find you guilty of obstructing justice.
- In this case, if your original charges were misdemeanor charges, your failure to appear is a first-degree misdemeanor. If you’re found guilty, you could serve up to one year in jail, pay a fine of up to $1,000, or both.
- However, if your original charges were felony charges, your failure to appear is a third-degree felony. If you’re found guilty, you could serve up to five years in prison, pay a fine of up to $5,000, or both.
Hiring a lawyer at this stage can help reduce potential fines and jail time, and can ensure that you raise all available defenses.
What Should You Do if You Have a Warrant?
When you have a warrant out for your arrest, police are authorized to arrest you on site. You could get picked up at work, school, during a traffic stop, at home, or anywhere you encounter police.
You need to take action as soon as you get notice of your warrant. If you act quickly enough, you can resolve the matter without getting arrested.
That's where our team comes in. The attorneys at Skubiak & Rivas, P.A. have been dealing with warrants issued by courts for years. We have the skills, dedication, and know-how necessary take care of your warrant.
Contact an Experienced Florida Bench Warrant Lawyer Today
Let's get started on resolving your warrants right now. Consultations with our firm are free. We'll discuss your options and help you establish the best strategy moving forward.