Did you miss your preliminary hearing, formal arraignment, pre-trial conference, trial date, probation violation hearing or other court hearing? Have you failed to pay traffic ticket fines or court costs or have you failed to complete court-ordered drug and alcohol treatment or alcohol highway safety classes?
Few situations can cause more stress and anxiety than missing a scheduled court hearing. Failing to appear in court is a serious matter that will often result in the issuance of a bench warrant for your arrest. It is important to have a knowledgeable local attorney on your side if you have an active warrant for failing to appear in court.
Bucks County Bench Warrant Attorney
I have over a decade of experience providing skilled and aggressive representation to individuals facing bench warrants for failing to appear for court in Bucks County, Montgomery County and the surrounding counties. Contact me at (215) 752-5282 for a free initial consultation or fill out the confidential contact form for an immediate response. Appointments are available after business hours and on weekends.
When is a Bench Warrant Issued?
Under Pennsylvania Code 1910.13-1, a bench warrant can be issued for your arrest if it is established that you received notice for attendance and:
- You failed to appear at a conference; or
- You failed to appear at a hearing; or
- You failed to appear in response to a court order
What Happens After a Bench Warrant is Issued?
When you fail to attend a court date or hearing, the judge will often issue a written order, referred to as a bench warrant. The bench warrant instructs most law enforcement agencies to take the individual named on the bench warrant into custody immediately upon contact. Once a judge issues the bench warrant, it becomes immediately accessible to law enforcement officers in the state of Pennsylvania through the Judicial Network System (JNET). Out-of-state warrants are also accessible to the police through the JNET database. It is important to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible if a bench warrant has been issued in your name.
Bench Warrants and Law Enforcement Databases
A bench warrant will remain active in background checks and law enforcement databases until you are arrested and the court rescinds the bench warrant. A bench warrant permits an immediate “on-the-spot” arrest of the subject of the warrant. Any interaction with local police, state police, sheriff deputies, federal law enforcement or airport personnel will result in your arrest and immediate detention.
What Happens if You Are Picked up on a Bench Warrant?
If you are arrested by a state or local police officer for an active bench warrant, you will likely spend up to 72 hours in jail before you are granted a hearing and appear before a judge to answer for the bench warrant. After the initial bail hearing, the warrant judge will may revoke your bail completely, meaning you will not be released from custody until your trial, conference or hearing takes place.
In other cases, the warrant judge may require that you post a higher amount of collateral for release and impose additional stricter terms and conditions for your bail. I can assist you and your family with the bail reduction process if you are in custody due to an outstanding bench warrant.
Steps to Take if You Have an Active Warrant
Fortunately, there are ways to avoid serious consequences if you are facing a bench warrant for missing a court date or other hearing. Any individual with an active bench warrant should immediately take the appropriate steps to clear the warrant by surrendering to law enforcement officials with the assistance of a criminal defense attorney, if that is possible. I can explain the legal process to rescind the warrant and minimize the chances that you will be detained by the bench warrant judge after the hearing.
Voluntary Surrender on the Bench Warrant
Individuals who voluntarily appear in court to resolve an active bench warrant will often receive better outcomes than those who appear before the warrant judge after they have been arrested and detained. In most cases, the warrant judge will be less likely to incarcerate individuals who have appeared in court to resolve his or her existing bench warrant. Contact me if you or your loved one has an active bench warrant for failing to appear for a court hearing. I will carefully examine the circumstances that led to the issuance of the bench warrant in your case to develop an effective defense at the bench warrant hearing.
Evidence Presented at the Bench Warrant Hearing
Failure to Receive Notice of the Hearing
Fortunately, there are ways to avoid serious consequences if a bench warrant has been issued in your name. In some cases, I have been able to convince the warrant judge to agree to rescind the warrant by demonstrating that the reason that the individual identified on the warrant missed the court date or hearing was unintentional or unavoidable. It is often possible to prove that the individual named on the warrant never received proper notice of the court date or hearing from the court, district attorney or other agency.
Failure to Appear in Court Due to Transportation or Medical Emergencies
In other cases, I have been able to establish that mitigating circumstances existed to explain an individual’s absence at a court date or other hearing. There are many times when an individual may not be able to appear in court due to a medical emergency or due to a lack of transportation. In other cases, an individual may be unable to attend a court hearing because they are receiving vital substance abuse or mental health treatment. I can advise you of the most effective way to present this information to the bench warrant judge to ensure that you have the best chance of being released from custody.
Presenting Character and Background Information
Information presented at the bench warrant hearing about an individual’s employment, character, community ties and history of attendance at previous court hearings will often persuade the warrant judge to rescind the warrant and release the subject of the warrant from custody. I have extensive experience in effectively presenting this type of information at the bench warrant hearing.
Start with a Strong Defense
If you are the subject of an active bench warrant in Bucks County, Montgomery County or the surrounding counties, it is important to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Phone lines are open 24 hours a day at (215) 752-5282. Call today for a free initial consultation or fill out the confidential contact form for an immediate response.