I have an old bench warrant. I really want to get on with my life. When do bench warrants expire?
What is a Bench Warrant?
The court process can be very complicated. Once a police officer pulls you over and charges you with a crime, your freedom is gradually reduced. You might be placed in a jail to be processed.
This can be especially difficult if you are arrested on the weekend. You might need to wait until Monday when the court is open. You have two choices: 1. Stay in jail to go to the court hearing or 2. Bail out of jail.
A difficult element of this process is that you are still officially “Innocent Until Proven Guilty.” Still, the court system may require you to appear at various hearings. Court schedules can be very slow and you probably would want to be bailed out.
When you pay off a bail bond, you are actually signing an agreement. You agree to appear at court, as long as the government allows you to be free before the court date. If you do not appear at your scheduled court hearing, a bench warrant might be issued by the judge.
What is a Bench Warrant?
Generally, the judge will write an order – called a bench warrant – that authorizes law enforcement to arrest you for contempt of court or a crime. Unfortunately, if you skipped bail, then you were never really convicted of the original crime. But, if are arrested on a bench warrant, you might have multiple charges to deal with – the original charges, plus the contempt of court.
After you are arrested on a bench warrant, you will probably lose many of your rights to bail out of jail. You are deemed to be a flight risk. The bench warrant also can damage your credibility.
Do Police Search for Warrants?
The police are required to search their computers for bench warrants when they pull you over. The government might find your bench warrant during a license renewal. Whenever your ID is run, the bench warrant might show up.
Those who are still free with a bench warrant are usually just lucky. Police might not have the resources to devote to search for bench warrants.
Bench Warrants Don’t Expire
The bad news for suspects is that bench warrants don’t expire. If you are arrested for one crime, then your record will be searched. You might be held for having an old bench warrant. This can make it very difficult for you to win any case.
An old bench warrant makes you look guilty automatically. An old bench warrant does not vanish, it does not expire. You can be arrested at any time for an outstanding bench warrant.