Judges use bench warrants to re-arrest defendants who missed a court date or failed to appear in court at a scheduled hearing. In many cases, you might not know that you have a bench warrant unless you are stopped by a police officer for something else or a court sends you notice of the warrant.
If you are re-arrested on a bench warrant, you could spend time in jail before trial while you wait for a hearing to be scheduled. After that, you will still have to face the charges against you. It is important to talk to a lawyer about getting your warrant cleared and fighting the charges against you. Our Cape May bench warrant lawyers fight to get warrants dropped and keep our clients out of jail. For a free legal consultation on your case call the Law Offices of John J. Zarych today at (609) 616-4956.
What to Do if You Have a Bench Warrant in Cape May
Most people never find out that they have a bench warrant for them before they are arrested. If you were recently charged with a crime and had a court date scheduled, but did not appear at that court date, you might expect a bench warrant will be issued soon. However, it is often difficult to receive notice of the bench warrant, and most people will only find out that there was a warrant when a police officer pulls them over for another offense. If that happens, the officer might arrest you and send you to jail. However, you might catch a break and be let off with a warning, which gives you time to do something about the warrant.
A bench warrant can be cleared without an arrest if you act quickly and work to get your case rescheduled in court. The main purpose of a bench warrant is just to get the defendant in the door so that the court can progress with the case. This means that a judge is usually willing to cancel a bench warrant if you schedule a new court case and agree to willingly come to court.
In many cases, you can get a bench warrant cleared by calling the court that issued it. This is often best to handle with the help of an attorney. Your lawyer can help convince the court to schedule a new court date and cancel the bench warrant in the meantime. If the court’s staff is uncooperative and unwilling to schedule a new date, it might be difficult to get the warrant dropped. If that happens, you will need help from a lawyer to get the warrant cleared.
What Happens if I Get Arrested for a Bench Warrant in Cape May?
As mentioned, the goal of a bench warrant is to arrest someone and bring them into court so that a case can proceed. This usually means bench warrants are issued against criminal defendants who failed to appear at a court date. Judges might issue bench warrants for other purposes, too, but the focus is usually on failure to appear cases.
Bench warrants typically work differently than regular criminal arrest warrants or search warrants. Those warrants are requested by police officers to arrest people they think committed a crime or to search for evidence they think will help prove a crime was committed. With a bench warrant for a failure to appear in court, the person being arrested has already been charged with a crime, arrested, booked, and scheduled for a court date. Re-arresting them afterward for failing to appear does not require the same proof of probable cause and approval by a judge; a judge can simply enter a bench warrant on their own.
Once you are arrested on a bench warrant, the officer will typically try to get you in front of a judge as quickly as possible. If a new court date can be scheduled quickly, you might need to wait in jail until the hearing. If your new court date is days later, police might need to release you back on bail.
When bail is determined again for your release, the judge might take your first failure to appear into account. If the judge believes you will not return to court, they might be unwilling to release you on bail without some security of a cash bail payment. In some cases, a serious history of failing to appear might mean that the judge will refuse to allow your release and deny bail, especially if the charges are quite serious.
Once you have a new court date, you will need to go to court ready to address the charges against you. The court case will resume at whatever stage it was in before you failed to appear. That means that if you missed your first court appearance, you might need to bring a lawyer and prepare for a preliminary hearing and arraignment. If the case was already moving toward trial, you might need to prepare for an actual trial.
Getting Bench Warrants Dropped in Cape May
Being arrested is not the only way to go back to court and get the bench warrant cleared up. As mentioned, you can usually have your lawyer call the courthouse and get the bench warrant taken care of by scheduling a new court date. However, you should work with a lawyer, because when you return to court, you will need to be prepared to continue fighting the charges against you.
Call Our Cape May Bench Warrant Lawyers for a Free Case Consultation
If you found out that there is a warrant for you in Cape May County, NJ, call the Law Offices of John J. Zarych today. Our Cape May bench warrant attorneys help fight to get bench warrants dropped and get charges dismissed to allow our clients to move on with their lives. For a free legal consultation on your bench warrant and the pending charges against you, call our Cape May criminal defense attorneys today at (609) 616-4956.