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They’re more common than you think. Someone you know has almost certainly had one at some point. There could be one on you right now that you’re not even aware of.
I’m talking about bench warrants, also known as failure to appear warrants, the order issued to law enforcement to take you into custody and bring you to court for arraignment should you fail to voluntarily comply. The most common way to earn a bench warrant is to miss a court date or fail to pay a fine, both of which can easily happen without you even knowing it; it’s as easy as your mail being misdirected or the issuer of a citation not explaining things to you properly.
Of the many inconvenient and unpleasant traits of these warrants, the worst is that they never expire. Because failure to appear is not technically a crime, the statute of limitations doesn’t apply and the warrant can be enforced indefinitely and something that happened five, ten, or twenty years ago that wasn’t even a crime can land you in jail for days waiting to be processed. Many people have lost their jobs and cars due to being arrested on bench warrants they forgot about or were never informed of. What would be a routine traffic stop or a slightly inconvenient speeding ticket can turn into a months-long ordeal.
If you’re fortunate enough to find out that there’s a California bench warrant out for you by some means other than being suddenly arrested and having your vehicle impounded– it’s common to discover them when trying to renew your car registration or drivers license, or pass a background check for a job– it’s important that you take action immediately.
Why Are These Warrants Issued?
For a minor issue like a traffic ticket, you may receive a notice or summons to appear in court. Usually these requirements are voided by paying associated fines that are assessed up front for offenses like jaywalking or speeding, as this is considered a guilty plea and closes the matter without taking up court resources, but not always. If you miss your court date or do not pay your fines, a bench warrant is then issued and what was not originally an arrest-worthy offense becomes one as you have to be brought before the system to have your infractions dealt with. They can also be issued for failing to meet the requirements of a sentence or court order, like missing counseling, meetings with a probation officer, or child support payments.
Depending on other factors, a failure to appear warrant can snowball into various other problems including suspension of your drivers license, additional fines, and even jail time with contempt of court charges.
Protect Yourself by Consulting An Attorney
If you know you missed a court appearance or you’ve recently discovered that there is a bench warrant out in your name, you need to clear it as soon as possible. Don’t wait to be arrested when you have no chance whatsoever to control the circumstances or manage your affairs in advance.
An experienced attorney can secure alternatives to you being taken immediately to jail. For example, you may be able to make a new court date and appear at arraignment or a special hearing rather than being arrested. An attorney also can appear with you at any hearings regarding failure to appear, help you explain why you failed to appear and fight to keep you out of jail. In many cases, if the warrant is many years old and you have no other offenses, an attorney can have it dismissed altogether for violating your right to due process, as the government had many years and opportunities to arrest you and never did so.
Contact Ticket Cleaners now to free yourself from waiting and wondering when you’ll be arrested on your FTA warrant. Initial consultation is always free.