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Bench Warrants in Philadelphia: How They Work, the Process and Recalling Warrants

Missing a court date is not something you simply reschedule like a meeting or a date. Court dates are mandatory events, and missing one may lead to serious penalties and consequences.

If you miss a court date, the judge in your case can issue a bench warrant. A bench warrant is a warrant for your arrest that comes directly from the judge rather than law enforcement. Once the warrant is issued, the police have the authority to take you into custody and return you to court. These warrants never expire, and people have been known to get arrested on warrants that are several years old. After realizing your mistake, you can work with a lawyer to reschedule the court date, and hopefully the judge will recall the warrant so you are not arrested. In any case, you will have to return to court to set things right.

People often miss court dates for innocent reasons, like scheduling errors or simply misremembering the date. Our Philadelphia bench warrant attorneys can help you resolve your mistake. Call The Law Offices of Lloyd Long at (215) 302-0171 for a free case review to begin.

What Are Bench Warrants in Philadelphia?

Bench warrants are a type of arrest warrant issued when a person fails to comply with a court order or fails to show up to court when required. Defendants may be the subject of a bench warrant if they do not show up for their court dates. Witnesses subpoenaed to testify can also be the subjects of bench warrants if they fail to appear.

While ordinary arrest warrants originate with the police and are signed off by a judge, a bench warrant comes directly from the judge’s bench. The warrant is not necessarily issued because someone committed a crime but because they violated a court order or requirement. Our Philadelphia criminal defense lawyers can help you sort out a bench warrant and hopefully avoid being arrested.

One of the most common reasons for bench warrants is the failure to show up for court. Defendants and witnesses are often warned that a bench warrant for their arrest may be issued if they do not show up when required. A judge can also issue a bench warrant if someone violates a court order.

The Process of Issuing and Executing a Bench Warrant in Philadelphia?

Bench warrants can be issued very quickly. Judges are often prepared to issue bench warrants at any time. The process of issuing a bench warrant often begins as soon as the court realizes you are not showing up. In fact, courts tend to issue bench warrants for any absent defendants or subpoenaed witnesses before the close of court that day. The issuance of the bench warrant is typically done on the record in open court.

The police can execute bench warrants at any time and any place. When a bench warrant is issued for your arrest in Philadelphia, your name and information are put into a huge database that law enforcement officials everywhere may access. This means that any time you encounter law enforcement, they can arrest you even if you are not in trouble. In fact, many people are arrested on bench warrants during routine traffic stops.

Bench warrants never expire, and many people have reported being arrested for bench warrants that were so old they had forgotten why it was issued in the first place. If you believe a bench warrant is out for your arrest, our Northeast Philadelphia criminal defense attorneys can help you get the warrant cleared or recalled.

Recalling a Bench Warrant in Philadelphia

A judge can recall a bench warrant just as easily as they issued it, but only under certain conditions. In many cases, a judge will recall a bench warrant when there is no longer a need for the warrant. Defendants often come forward of their own accord and try to reschedule their missed court dates. When the defendant is so willing to cooperate, a judge might recall the warrant as it is not needed to make the defendant return to court.

However, judges do not always recall warrants even if defendants are willing to cooperate. If your underlying offense was rather severe, or the court knows you have a history of skipping court dates, they might leave the warrant intact to ensure you return.

To get your bench warrant recalled, our Montgomery County criminal defense attorneys can help you coordinate with the court for a new hearing date. If this is the first time you have missed a hearing and your charges are not severe, we might be able to persuade the judge to recall the warrant.

Do I Have to Go Back to Court for a Bench Warrant in Philadelphia?

Ultimately, you must return to court to face the consequence of failing to appear. Failing to show up or otherwise violating a court order may be charged as contempt, a criminal offense punishable by jail time and fines. Whether you are held in contempt and charged is up to the judge.

If you need to reschedule a missed court date to avoid being arrested on a bench warrant, you should speak to our Delaware County criminal defense attorneys before doing anything else. If you try to go back to court on your own, you might be arrested or criminally charged. Our team can help you contact the court and get the warrant recalled and hopefully avoid arrest.

Even if we can get the warrant recalled, you will likely have to explain your absence to the court when you return for your hearing. It is important to tread lightly here, as the court could still impose contempt charges.

Call Our Philadelphia Bench Warrant Attorneys for Advice

Our Bucks County criminal defense attorneys can help you reschedule missed court dates and get your bench warrant recalled. Missing a court date is often a simple misunderstanding, and the court might show leniency. Call The Law Offices of Lloyd Long at (215) 302-0171 for a free case review.