Most of us are familiar with the concept of a warrant. It’s just a legal document allowing government officials to carry out a specific action. That could include anything from searching a suspect’s property to making an arrest. A bench warrant is a little different. Generally, it means you were supposed to be sitting on a bench before a judge and you weren’t. This type of warrant typically applies to those who were released on bail but failed to appear for their court date. Although, the rule isn’t hard and fast. There are certainly other reasons a judge would issue a bench warrant, namely violating any rules set forth by the court. 

Bench Warrant vs Arrest Warrant

While the situations warranting an arrest warrant vs bench warrant are different, the course of action government officials take will be relatively similar. Simply put, law enforcement is authorized to track you down, detain you, and return you to court. Another key difference is that for a police officer to obtain an arrest warrant they must prove probable cause. To make a bench warrant possible, you need only to have been summoned to court and missed your hearing. If you were issued a bench warrant incorrectly, your lawyer can help recall the warrant and get it cleared from the court system. 

Failure to Appear is a Crime

Before you are released from jail on bond, the court first stipulates your court date. The defendant must agree to be present for all of their court dates before returning home. If you knowingly miss that court date, you can be charged with bail jumping. There’s a chance you may be released on bail again, until your next court date. However, you may also be denied bail and the new charge for failure to appear could result in additional jail time or fines

Defenses Against Failure to Appear

If you’ve been issued a bench warrant, you can be certain you’re in trouble. However, the courts recognize that unforeseen circumstances arise in life. The standard for an excuse is incredibly high, but should you meet the requirements, the court may reschedule your hearing and rescind any consequences. In Texas, you must prove that serious circumstances prevented the accused from appearing for their court date. This could include cirumstances like:

  • A serious accident
  • Hospitalization
  • Death of a family member
  • Not being given sufficient notice about court date

However, the court will be significantly less understanding about situations like not finding a babysitter or forgetting when you were scheduled to appear. Make sure you start making preparations once your court date is set to avoid any situation that could make you look bad in front of the judge. 

Houston Bail Bonds

If you’ve been issued a bench warrant, the courts may still release you if you’re not deemed a flight risk. Unfortunately, if you’re accused of jumping bail you’ll be responsible for paying back the full bail amount posted by the bond company. However, ABC Bail Bonds in Houston can issue you a new bond so you can re-enter society and continue making plans and preparing for your trial. Contact us today to learn more about how to post bail after being served with a bench warrant.