If you have been charged with any crime in Arizona, you will be given a court date. This court date is the time for you and your lawyer to argue your case in front of judge as well as it is the time when deals and reduced sentences are most likely to be given out, so it is extremely important that you attend.
If you fail to show up to court on your assigned day, the judge has the right to issue a bench warrant. If a bench warrant is issued you will be arrested as well as any leniency that the judge had for sentencing is most likely gone.
A bench warrant carries the same weight and magnitude that a regular arrest warrant carries. This means that the police will come to your house, your work or anywhere else you commonly are to arrest you.
Even though police will be looking for you once a bench warrant has been issued, it is always best for you to turn yourself in and to not cause any further trouble. If you have an active bench warrant out for your arrest, contact JacksonWhite Law today to speak with an experienced criminal defense lawyer who can assist you.
What is a Bench Warrant?
There are two main types of warrants that can be issued, an arrest warrant and bench warrant. An arrest warrant is issued by a judge and supported by a signed affidavit that shows probable cause that a crime was committed while a bench warrant is issued when someone fails to appear in court.
Even though a bench warrant is different than an arrest warrant, once signed it is treated the exact same way as an arrest warrant. This means that once a bench warrant has been issued, the police will come looking for the person, that person’s license will be suspended and when they are found they will be arrested and brought in front of the judge who issued the warrant.
Bench warrants have severe consequences, so skipping out on your court date does not mean you won’t have to deal with any consequences. Instead, if you skip your court date you will still have to deal with the consequences of the original court date as well as any consequences associated with a bench warrant.
Types of Bench Warrants in Arizona
The consequences of failing to appear in court are extremely severe. If the judge decides to sign a bench warrant, it will either be a Failure to Appear First Degree or a Failure to Appear Second Degree and both have serious consequences.
Failure to Appear 1st Degree (A.R.S 13-2507)
This charge is given when an individual fails to make a court date that was for a felony offense. It does not matter what level the felony was, if an individual does not appear on the day of court they will be charged with a class 5 felony which can result in up to a year and a half in prison. Once the judge has signed off on the charge, the bench warrant will then be issued.
Failure to Appear 2nd Degree (A.R.S. 13-2506)
If an individual fails to appear for a court date that was for a misdemeanor charge, they wil be charged with Failure to Appear Second Degree. This charge is less serious than a 1st degree as it is not a felony, however it is a class one misdemeanor which is serious and it carries a fine of up to $2,500 and possible jail time.
How Long Does a Bench Warrant Last?
When a bench warrant is issued, it is valid until the individual has been brought in before a judge. This means that even if it has been weeks or months since the bench warrant was issued, it is still valid and it will not go away with time.
If there is an active bench warrant out for you, you will need to act quickly and speak with an experienced criminal defesne attorney as soon as possible. The longer you wait before turning yourself in or having the police find and arrest you, the more severe the consequences will be.
What to Do When You Have a Scheduling Conflict
If something comes up and you are unable to attend your court date, you and your attorney will need to file a motion to postpone.
Those unable to attend their court date can make a motion to postpone. Partnering with a criminal defense lawyer offers the best possible outcome for individuals who need help attempting to move the court date. The most important thing is to adhere to what the court decides. Regardless of the result, people should try their best to make the court date and avoid a bench warrant in the future.
Getting Help from an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney
Here’s how an experienced criminal defense attorney can help you if you missed court and have/had a bench warrant issued:
- Petition the court to quash the warrant
- Work out a deal to help you surrender to the court
- Fight any and all charges against you
- Protect your rights and ensure the best results for your case