If you missed a court date or have a number of outstanding traffic tickets, it is possible that a judge might issue a bench warrant for you. A bench warrant is different from a criminal arrest warrant, which is issued to arrest someone suspected of a crime. A bench warrant is instead issued for someone who has already been charged with a crime and should know that they had a court date. Mistakes can happen, and bench warrants are not issued for every failure to appear, so many people wonder how they can check if they have a bench warrant for their arrest. The Law Offices of John J. Zarych’s Atlantic City bench warrant lawyers explain how to find out if you have a bench warrant and what you can do about it.
What is a Bench Warrant in NJ?
As mentioned, bench warrants are usually issued only after someone has already been charged with a crime. This means that you should usually have some paperwork somewhere or there should have been some arrest papers or citation you received telling you that you were being charged with a crime. In many cases, this will mean you have already been arraigned by a judge and informed of the charges, but in some cases, the bench warrant might come for a large number of unpaid traffic tickets or other citations.
Typically, a judge issues a bench warrant for a failure to appear in court. This means that there must have been some court date you were scheduled to appear at that you did not show up to. In some cases, failure to appear is intentional, with defendants refusing to show up to court to address charges they think are unfair. In other cases, the failure to appear is an honest mistake, with notice of the court date getting lost in the mail or getting mistaken for junk mail or a scam.
In either case, a judge might issue a bench warrant for your arrest, and it will be put into a state-wide database. If you come across police by being pulled over for a traffic offense or under suspicion of DUI, you could be arrested and brought into court on that bench warrant.
How Can I Tell if There’s a Bench Warrant Out for Me in New Jersey?
Bench warrants in New Jersey are issued by a court and recorded in a state-wide system. This usually means that there are three reliable ways to find the warrant: asking the court if there is a bench warrant for you, checking the court records yourself, or checking the warrant database.
You can always call the courthouse where your charges were issued and ask them if there is a bench warrant for you. This can sometimes be risky since the court might ask you questions or try to get you to turn yourself in. It is best to work with a bench warrant lawyer rather than handle this kind of request on your own. However, they might ultimately tell you whether there is a warrant out for you and what charges it pertains to.
You can also usually check the court records online. You’ll typically need the defendant’s name and what county the charges were filed in, but additional information like your date of birth can also help you find the right court record. The sheet might say whether or not a bench warrant was issued in your case, but there is no guarantee that these records are updated or easily accessible.
Lastly, you can check the state’s bench warrant database directly. However, most people do not have access to this system. Police, bail bond agents, and lawyers might be able to access this system and tell you if you have a warrant, but working with police might be risky without a lawyer, as they could simply arrest you if there is a warrant for you. Some third-party companies claim to be able to run records checks for you and tell you whether you have a bench warrant, but these services might be expensive and have no guarantee of accuracy. However, if they are accurate, they might run warrant searches in more than one state, which can be helpful if you think you might have legal issues in multiple places.
Ultimately, your best bet is to call a lawyer. Not only can a lawyer help you confirm that you do or do not have a warrant, but they can also help you get the warrant dropped and fight the charges against you.
Lawyer for Help with Bench Warrants in New Jersey
If you do have a warrant out for you, that means that any police officer you come across in the State of New Jersey could arrest you at any time and take you back to jail. The judge that issued the warrant typically will not care how you get back to court, as long as you show up to address the charges. This usually means that judges are willing to allow defendants to reschedule their court date and show up on their own, which allows the judge to drop the warrant.
Resolving a warrant can often be a simple process that your lawyer can handle over the phone. However, if a new court date is scheduled, that means that you will have to appear in court and address the pending charges at that time. This usually means you will need the help of an attorney anyway to challenge the case against you and fight to get the charges dropped or dismissed or to negotiate a plea deal to end the case.
Call Our Atlantic City Bench Warrant Lawyers for a Free Legal Consultation
If you or a loved one has a bench warrant or suspects that they might, call the Law Offices of John J. Zarych for help. Our Atlantic City criminal defense lawyers represent the accused and help them fight charges to get them dropped and dismissed. We also seek to have bench warrants dropped so that our clients can go about their day without the fear of being arrested. For help with your case and help learning more about whether you have a bench warrant in NJ, call our attorneys today at (609) 616-4956.