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About Bench Warrants


If you're a fan of crime shows on television, you've probably heard an actor say something to the effect of, "There's a warrant for his arrest." If you suspect that there's a warrant out for your arrest, you probably want to learn more about bench warrants and standard arrest warrants and the differences between the two.

What is a bench warrant? Are bench warrants and arrest warrants the same thing? No, they are not the same thing; however, their functions are nearly identical. Read on as we explain bench warrants and how they differ from traditional arrest warrants.

What is a Bench Warrant?

Bench warrants are initiated by a judge. Generally, judges issue bench warrants after a criminal defendant fails to do something they were supposed to do. Typically, a judge issues an arrest warrant after a defendant fails to appear in court.

In Columbia, and throughout South Carolina, the courts are very serious about court hearings. Unless a defendant couldn't make it to a hearing because they were in a serious accident and transported to the hospital via ambulance, there's no excuse for not appearing in court.

If you have to work that day, you still have to show up in court. If you don't have a ride, you still have to find a way – even if it takes you three hours to get to court using public transportation.

So, if you forget all about your court appearance, or if you decide not to show because you're afraid of going to jail, it's almost guaranteed that the judge will issue a "bench warrant" for your arrest.

Once the judge issues a bench warrant, you can be arrested anywhere, at any time. The police can show up at your place of work, or they can come knocking on your door. If you're pulled over for a broken tail light, you'll get arrested after the police officer runs your information in their computer and finds out you have a bench warrant.

Traditional Arrest Warrants

Unlike bench warrants that are initiated by a judge, traditional arrest warrants are sought by police officers. Usually what happens is the police officer will be conducting an investigation; once the officer believes he has sufficient evidence against a suspect, he'll present the evidence to a judge and ask the judge to sign off on an arrest warrant.

If the police officer is successful in convincing the judge, the judge will issue an arrest warrant. From there, the police officer can pursue an arrest with the judge's blessing. This does not mean that police officers need arrest warrants for each and every arrest – that is not the case.

Generally, police officers seek warrants when they want to catch a suspect by surprise. Or, when they didn't nab the offender "in the act," but they collected enough evidence afterwards that they can proceed with a criminal case.

If the suspect is particularly intelligent, or a "flight risk," the police may obtain an arrest warrant, and then try to knock down the suspect's door late at night, while he or she is asleep in the comfort of their own home. The idea is to initiate an arrest when it's the least dangerous and when the suspect is off-guard.

Is there a warrant out for your arrest in Columbia, South Carolina? If so, contact Masella Law Firm, P.A. today for the legal help you need and deserve!

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