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.
Courts will issue bench warrants for people who fail to appear for their court proceedings. However, people are not always notified if a bench warrant has been issued for their arrest. You can find out if you have a bench warrant by checking with the court or checking certain online portals. It is important to check for bench warrants because they are much easier to deal with before getting arrested.
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. If you think you might have bench warrants out for your arrest, contact our New Jersey bench warrant attorneys for a free legal consultation. Call our office at (609) 616-4956.
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 citations 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 the 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 being pulled over for a traffic offense or under suspicion of DUI, you could be arrested and brought into court on that bench warrant. For help with your bench warrant, call our New Jersey bench warrant lawyers.
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 an Atlantic County 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. Our New Jersey bench warrant attorneys are here to help.
Consequences of Bench Warrants in New Jersey
There are multiple consequences for a person subject to a bench warrant. Bench warrants do more than just bring the defendant back to court for the hearing they missed. They come with legal penalties that are designed to incentivize people to obey the court in the first place. Our New Jersey bench warrant attorneys can help you deal with the fallout from your bench warrant and hopefully avoid serious penalties.
First, if a bench warrant is issued for you, you can be rearrested at any time and brought back to court. For many cases, bench warrants are not a top priority of the police. Bench warrants are not issued because someone committed a new crime, but because they disobeyed the court. Rather than track defendants down right away, police wait to arrest them at their next encounter with the defendant. This is often at routine traffic stops. Once you are rearrested, you will be brought back to court and the judge will decide what to do next. This usually means rescheduling your court hearing and deciding if you should be released.
Depending on your underlying charges, your bail could be revoked. If you missed a court hearing while you were released on bail, the judge might not be so keen to release you on bail again after rescheduling your hearing. This is especially so for defendants whose underlying charges are serious or violent felonies.
Another tactic the courts use to incentivize people into showing up to court is issuing driver’s license suspensions with bench warrants. The suspension will not be lifted until the bench warrant is cleared and the related case or issue is resolved. This way, defendants must return to court to deal with their charges and get their license back as well.
If you are dealing with a bench warrant right now, reach out to our Cape May bench warrant attorneys for assistance.
Lifting a Bench Warrant for Your Arrest in New Jersey
Bench warrants can be resolved in one of two ways. Either the warrant is cleared or lifted by the judge, or you are rearrested and brought into court. Most defendants would much rather have the warrant lifted than be arrested by the police. Depending on your circumstances, lifting the warrant may be relatively easy, or it could come with consequences.
It may be easier to have a bench warrant lifted if you missed court due to an honest mistake rather than a willful attempt to evade the court. In some cases, you can contact the court and arrange to come into court on your own. The court may lift the warrant without ever having to arrest you. If your underlying charges are more serious, the court may require you to come in right away rather than scheduling you for a later date. However, getting you back into court is the primary goal of the bench warrant, so showing up to court will likely lift the warrant.
Keep in mind, if your case is more serious, the court may be less inclined to simply reschedule your hearing and let you off with a warning. Depending on your situation, you could face charges for bail jumping or have your bail revoked when you show up to have your warrant lifted. Speak to our New Jersey bench warrant lawyers before going back to court. We can advise you of the potential consequences and help you prepare for your hearing.
Avoiding a Bench Warrant Before It Is Issued in New Jersey
Bench warrants are commonly issued when a defendant fails to appear for a court hearing or proceeding. In many cases, this failure to appear is an honest mistake or due to circumstances outside the defendant’s control. If you know you are not going to be able to attend your court date, you can take steps to notify the court and hopefully avoid a bench warrant.
One thing you can do is call the court before your hearing and tell them about your situation. You may be able to reschedule your hearing without having to deal with a bench warrant for your arrest. However, courts can be very unforgiving when it comes to reasons you might miss your hearing. A court date is very important and will not be rescheduled because you overslept or your ride to court fell through.
Courts are more likely to work with you if you are dealing with an emergency situation. For example, if you were in a car accident and sent to the hospital, the court may reschedule your hearing for a later date. However, calling to reschedule because you cannot find a babysitter for your kids might not cut it. Even if you do not have a very good excuse, you might have better luck if you call sometime before the court date you plan on missing. For example, calling the morning of your hearing to reschedule might not work. However, calling a week or more ahead might work in your favor because it allows time for other parties to be notified.
Remember, rescheduling your court date because you cannot make it is a courtesy of the court, not a right. Most people are lucky to reschedule their court dates even just once. Missing court after having it rescheduled will likely result in a bench warrant for your arrest. If you believe you are going to miss an upcoming court date, contact our New Jersey bench warrant attorneys for help. We may be able to help you sort things out with the court and avoid a bench warrant altogether.
Lawyers 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 who 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. Contact our New Jersey bench warrant lawyers for help with your case today.
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 to learn more about whether you have a bench warrant in New Jersey, call our attorneys today at (609) 445-3512.