Posted on June 12, 2016

Orange County | Bench & Arrest Warrant Removal | Free Consultation

A bench or arrest warrant is an order from the court allowing law enforcement to legally effectuate the arrest of a defendant.  If the court issues a warrant, the warrant is inputted into the Department of Justice database accessible to law enforcement agencies nationwide.  Any search of someone’s basic information will reveal the presence of a warrant mandating the arrest of a suspect.  Consequently, the DMV is also notified and a defendant’s driver’s license will automatically become suspended until the warrant is removed.

Warrant may be issued in felony, misdemeanor, or traffic cases when a defendant fails to appear.  A common misconception is that the passage of time will remove the outstanding warrant from your record.  Instead, the warrant will remain in full effect until it is recalled and quashed.  Only the judge has the ability to recall and quash a warrant.  In many cases, someone can find themselves being arrested after a traffic stop or traveling through an airport while not knowing an outstanding warrant existed for months or even years.  In that unfortunate instance, a person will be arrested and subjected to address the court while in custody.

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TYPES OF WARRANTS

  • Bench Warrant: A judge issues a bench warrant when a defendant fails to appear in court. The court may issue a bench warrant at any stage of the case – e.g., arraignment, pretrial hearings, trial conferences, or post-conviction such as failing to show progress in your court ordered classes or community service.  Bench warrants can be issued in any type of criminal case, whether it be felony, misdemeanor, or even traffic infractions.  Bench warrants are far more common that arrest or search warrants because many defendant’s fail to appear before the court.  Consequently, the judge may issue a warrant for a “no bail” hold.
  • Arrest Warrant: Arrest warrants are usually issued when charges are initially filed. Typically, law enforcement or the prosecuting agency seeks the signature of a judge permitting law enforcement to legally arrest a defendant at any time.  Arrest warrants are common in serious crimes, such as homicide, sex crimes, or if law enforcement believes the suspect could be a flight risk.
  • Search Warrant: Search warrants are requested by law enforcement for a judge’s signature permitting them to conduct a search of someone’s home, vehicle, or any place where someone has a reasonable expectation of privacy. Probable cause is the standard law enforcement must fulfill in order to obtain a judge’s signature.  If law enforcement is armed with a search warrant, it permits them to legally detain you for a reasonable period of time while they conduct the search.

HOW TO RECALL AN OUTSTANDING WARRANT

  • Felony Warrant: In all felony cases, to recall a bench or arrest warrant, the defendant’s personal presence is necessary. In other words, a defendant must physically appear before the judge in order for the warrant to be “recalled and quashed.”  After recalling the warrant, the judge will decide whether the defendant can remain free on their own recognizance or set a bail  This will largely depend on the severity of the offense and how long the warrant has been outstanding prior to being recalled.  Regardless, the case will immediately resume where it left off when the warrant was issued.
  • Misdemeanor Warrant: Misdemeanor warrants are similar to felony warrants. The only way to “recall and quash” the warrant is the defendant’s physical appearance before the court.  However, some court’s permit a private attorney to appear on behalf of the defendant without their presence.  This is common when someone lives out of state or country.  Other courts will require a defendant’s physical presence regardless of where they live.  Normally the judge will allow private attorney’s to recall warrants on behalf of their client’s for non-violent offenses whereas require a defendant’s physical presence for serious offenses.
  • Traffic Warrant: A bench or arrest warrant issued for an infraction can be recalled and quashed by a private attorney without the defendant’s physical presence. Warrants for infractions are commonly issued in traffic ticket cases where a defendant fails to appear for their traffic arraignment or trial.  Consequently, the judge will issue a failure to appear and a person may find themselves having to pay more fines and fees as a result.

CHECK / SEARCH FOR A WARRANT

There are multiple ways for someone to search or check for an outstanding warrant in Orange County.  The better approach is to contact an Orange County Warrant Lawyer who may assist in revealing the presence of a warrant through a case search inquiry via the Superior Court website.  An attorney can find out what you’ve been charged with, when the warrant was issued, and the best way to remove the warrant without subjecting you to greater penalties.  Other methods of searching for warrants are:

  • Through the public access page located on the Orange County Superior Court You can find out exactly why the warrant was issued and potential charge(s) against you.
  • You can also discover whether you have a warrant by calling the Orange County Sheriff’s Department and asking them to run your record for warrants. This will require you to reveal your basic information – e.g., name, date of birth, and driver’s license number.  You may also be able to discover an outstanding warrant by visiting the OCSD Arrest Warrant Search section of the OCSD website and inputting your basic information.
  • The criminal clerk’s office located at any courthouse within Orange County can tell you whether a warrant is in place.
  • There are numerous commercial websites that will run your record for outstanding warrants for a fee. However, these websites don’t carry the same database as law enforcement so it’s unclear whether all outstanding warrants would be revealed by utilizing their services.

THREE EXCUSES FOR FAILING TO APPEAR

Courts will recognize three legitimate excuses for someone who fails to appear to court.  If the reason you failed to appear does not fall within the below categories, then it’s important to discuss your matter with an attorney who may be able to recall the warrant without you suffering harsh penalties.

  1. Military Duty
  1. Hospitalization
  1. Incarceration

POSSIBLE DISMISSAL REMEDY

If a defendant fails to appear for their arraignment on any criminal case, they may be entitled to earn a dismissal if their speedy trial right was violated.  It’s a complex motion that requires the examination of a balancing test – i.e., the government’s attempt to bring the defendant to court versus the prejudice suffered as a result of the delay.  In other words, the longer the warrant has been outstanding, the better argument a defendant has for a dismissal.  For example, if someone has been arrested for a DUI and they fail to appear for their arraignment, if one year has lapsed since their arrest to the day they entered court, the law will recognize the defendant to suffer “presumed prejudice” infringing upon their ability to defend the charges against them and as a result, the case will be dismissed.

CONTACT US FOR A FREE CONSULTATION

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If you have an outstanding warrant, there’s no question that you will need an Orange County Criminal Defense Attorney familiar with the procedure and process of recalling the warrant to avoid heavy penalties.  Contact the Law Offices of John D. Rogers for a free consultation concerning your outstanding warrant and the necessary steps you need to take to recall it.

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