Philadelphia Bench Warrant Lawyer
Getting charged with a crime can totally upend your life and your priorities. You will now have to navigate the criminal justice system, which can be complex and confusing for people who work in it every day, let alone for someone experiencing this system for the first time. However, it is important that you follow all directions that you are given or you could end up in even more trouble for failing to abide by the court’s orders.
Sometimes, if you fail to meet an obligation during a criminal case, a judge will issue what is known as a “bench warrant” for your arrest. At The Law Offices of Lloyd Long, our experienced Philadelphia criminal defense attorneys have successfully helped many clients deal with bench warrant issues. If you believe a bench warrant has been issued against you, call us today at (215) 302-0171 for a free consultation.
What is a Philadelphia Bench Warrant?
A bench warrant in Philadelphia is a warrant for your arrest issued by a judge. Unlike arrest warrants or search warrants, bench warrants are issued by the judge directly, without an application from law enforcement. A bench warrant is issued when someone fails to meet their obligations under the court system. For example, judges often issue bench warrants when defendants or witnesses fail to appear at a required court hearing. They can also issue bench warrants for failure to comply with probation requirements or failure to pay court fines and fees assessed against you.
When a bench warrant is issued against someone, this means that the police can arrest them at any time so that they can be brought before the judge to answer for the warrant. Typically, police do not actively seek to enforce bench warrants by tracking people down at their homes or offices. However, this does not mean it is a good idea to simply ignore a warrant. Anytime you encounter law enforcement, even during a routine traffic stop, the officer will run a warrant check on you. If they see a warrant, they will likely arrest you on the spot, even if the warrant has been out for years.
Penalties for Bench Warrants in Philadelphia
If you are arrested on a bench warrant, you will be taken to the local police station and booked just like after a regular arrest. If the bench warrant was issued by another jurisdiction, you will be transferred there. You will be kept in a holding cell or a detention facility until you can appear before a judge. The judge can choose simply to quash the warrant in exchange for you meeting your obligations, but they can also choose to impose punishments.
Punishments might involve a short jail stay, revocation of your bail, or the assessment of additional fines and fees as penalties. In Pennsylvania, you can also be charged with the additional crime of “default in required appearance” if you fail to show up for a court date in your misdemeanor or felony case. For a missed court appearance in a misdemeanor case, this charge is punishable by up to $5,000 in fines and up to 2 years in prison. For a missed court appearance in a felony case, this charge in punishable by up to $15,000 in fines and up to 7 years in prison.
What to Do If You Believe You Have a Philadelphia Bench Warrant
The best way to avoid the more serious potential penalties that can come from having a bench warrant issued against you is to get out in front of the matter before you are actually arrested on the warrant. As soon as you learn or even suspect that a bench warrant may have been issued against you, you should contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer like those at The Law Offices of Lloyd Long. The lawyer can contact the local court and police department and find out whether a bench warrant in your name exists and what it is regarding.
Your lawyer can then attempt to negotiate a situation where you surrender yourself in exchange for going straight before a judge without being arrested first. The judge will likely be more inclined to quash the matter if you turn yourself in for the bench warrant and cooperate. In addition, there are often very valid reasons that people miss court. You may have had a medical emergency or your summons may have had the wrong date listed. Our lawyers can tell your side of the story to the judge and work to convince them that you do not deserve to face a new criminal charge or other penalties for your mistake.
If you are arrested on a bench warrant, your first call should be to an experienced criminal defense attorney such as those at The Law Offices of Lloyd Long. We can work first and foremost to get you before a judge as soon as possible so that you do not spend an unnecessary amount of time behind bars awaiting a hearing. We can then work to convince the judge to release you without adding on further charges or revoking your bail.
Finally, our lawyers can help you deal with the underlying case that the bench warrant was regarding if it has not yet been resolved. We are experienced in settling and trying all sorts of criminal matters, from homicides to simple assaults. We will work to get your case handled in a timely manner so that this process does not continue to interrupt your life.
If You Are Worried About a Bench Warrant, Call Our Philadelphia Criminal Defense Lawyers Today
Bench warrants are no joke, and they can lead to serious penalties, especially if a judge believes your behavior was willful. However, an experienced Philadelphia criminal defense attorney like those at The Law Offices of Lloyd Long can work to mitigate any damage and to get the matter resolved as quickly and efficiently as possible. We will help the judge to understand the reasons for your behavior and advocate for no penalties or minimal penalties for your mistake. Call us today at (215) 302-0171 for a free consultation.