A warrant is a legal document which allows authorities to arrest, search, seize, or perform some other action in an effort to stop or solve a crime. Common forms include search warrants, arrest warrants, and bench warrants. No matter what kind of warrant is issued, it must be signed or issued by a judge. Although authorities do not need a warrant to arrest you in all situations, both abench warrant and arrest warrant will end in your being jailed. However, there are other significant differences in the two kinds of warrants.
A bench warrant is one that is typically issued by a judge when you fail to appear for a court date. Bench warrants are also used in cases of missed child support payments, failure to pay a traffic ticket, or not appearing for jury duty. The charge is commonly referred to as jumping bail, which can vary in seriousness depending on the crime for which you did not appear in court.
If you are charged with a minor crime for which the most severe penalty possible is a fine, your failure to appear charge will also be more minor, punishable only by a fine of up to $500.
However, if the charge you did not appear in court for was a more serious misdemeanor with both fines and jail time as potential penalties, your failure to appear charge will also carry the potential for up to one year in jail and/or up to $4,000 in fines. Finally,Texas law dictates that failing to appear for a felony court date be treated as a felony crime, with a sentence of between two and 10 years in prison.
There is usually no bail offered in such a case because you have already demonstrated that you cannot be trusted to come to the necessary court dates. An experienced attorney may be able to negotiate bail or arrange for you to simply pay a fine in misdemeanor cases.
Anarrest warrant is also issued by a judge, but the process for getting the warrant issued is more complex. The authorities seeking the arrest warrant must provide:
A written affidavit, swearing to the truth of the facts of the case and establishing probable cause
The name of the person to be arrested
The name of the officer or agency to conduct the arrest
The judge will determine whether or not the authorities have met the requirements necessary to justify issuing an arrest warrant. Unlike a bench warrant, arrest warrants are not automatic and carry a much higher burden of proof, which also means that they are much more serious than bench warrants.
Contact an Attorney
If you learn that either a bench warrant or arrest warrant has been issued for you, you need to contact the attorneys atAbel Law Firm immediately. We can contact the court on your behalf and may be able to arrange for you to appear in court or surrender to the police station without being arrested at home or work.
(image courtesy of David von Diemar)