Criminal Defense

What’s the Difference Between an Arrest Warrant and a Bench Warrant?

January 24, 2023 by Mikel Rastegar in Criminal Defense  Special Report  
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Bench vs. Arrest

Warrants may be issued for a variety of reasons, including failure to appear in court, suspicion of criminal activity, or failure to pay a fine. Depending on the type of warrant, the legal consequences can be serious.

What is an Arrest Warrant?

An arrest warrant is a legal document that authorizes law enforcement to apprehend and arrest a person suspected of committing a crime. An arrest warrant is issued by a judge and is based on evidence that suggests the person in question is guilty of the crime. An arrest warrant is only issued if there is probable cause to believe that the person committed the crime.

When an arrest warrant is issued, the person named in the warrant must be taken into custody and brought before a judge. The person may be held in jail until their court date or may be released on bail until the court hearing.

What is a Bench Warrant?

A bench warrant is issued by a judge and is often issued when a person fails to appear in court for a scheduled hearing or subpoena; or fails to pay a fine. However, the consequences are the same as an arrest warrant since law enforcement has the order to arrest the person named.

Unlike an arrest warrant, a bench warrant is not based on evidence that suggests the person is guilty of a crime. A bench warrant is issued to compel the person to appear in court and is not intended to punish or incriminate the person.

Differences Between Arrest Warrants and Bench Warrants

The primary difference between an arrest warrant and a bench warrant is the basis for issuance. An arrest warrant is based on evidence that suggests the person is guilty of a crime, while a bench warrant is issued to compel the person to appear in court.

Another difference between the two types of warrants is the legal consequences. An arrest warrant is a serious legal document and can result in imprisonment or fines if the person is found guilty of the crime. A bench warrant does not carry the same legal consequences but can still result in arrest and imprisonment if the person does not appear in court.

When Are Arrest Warrants and Bench Warrants Issued?

An arrest warrant is issued by a judge or magistrate when there is probable cause to believe that the person named on the warrant has committed a crime. This means that there must be sufficient evidence to suggest that the person is guilty of the crime. This evidence may include testimony from witnesses, statements from the accused, or physical evidence such as DNA or fingerprints.

A bench warrant is issued when a person fails to appear in court for a scheduled hearing or fails to pay a fine. A bench warrant is not based on evidence that suggests the person is guilty of a crime but is instead intended to compel the person to appear in court.

How Are Arrest Warrants and Bench Warrants Executed?

When an arrest warrant or bench warrant is issued, law enforcement is authorized to take the person named in the warrant into custody. An arrest warrant can be executed anywhere, while a bench warrant must be executed in the jurisdiction in which it was issued.

In most cases, law enforcement will attempt to serve the warrant in person. However, in some cases, law enforcement may use other methods to serve the warrant, such as mail or electronic service.

How Are Arrest Warrants and Bench Warrants Resolved?

An arrest warrant can be resolved in several ways. If the person is found guilty of the crime, they may face imprisonment or fines. If the person is found not guilty, the warrant will be dismissed and the person will be released.

A bench warrant can also be resolved in several ways. If the person appears in court for their scheduled hearing, the warrant will be lifted and the person may be released. If the person fails to appear in court, they may be arrested and held in jail until their court date.

What Are the Legal Consequences of Arrest Warrants and Bench Warrants?

The legal consequences of an arrest warrant and a bench warrant can be serious. An arrest warrant is a serious legal document and can result in imprisonment or fines if the person is found guilty of the crime. A bench warrant does not carry the same legal consequences but can still result in arrest and imprisonment if the person does not appear in court.

Do You Need a Lawyer?

It is important to understand the legal consequences of both types of warrants and to contact an attorney if you have been served with a warrant. An attorney can help you understand the legal process and protect your rights.

Need an Attorney? CALL NOW: 310-274-6529

Seppi Esfandi is an Expert Attorney who has over 21 years of practice defending a variety of cases.

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