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Litigation » How Long Does a Bench Warrant Last?
A bench warrant (“BW”) issued in California does not expire. It remains in effect until either:
In California, a person can clear a BW by either:
If a bench warrant does not get cleared, a person risks getting arrested and a judge may:
A “bench warrant” (sometimes referred to as a “body attachment”) is the most common type of warrant issued in California. It is issued from “the bench,” which means the judge. These warrants are not issued because of suspected criminal activity. Rather, a judge authorizes a BW typically because a party has failed to:
A California BW authorizes law enforcement personnel to arrest the person named in the warrant and bring him directly to court.
A bench warrant issued in California does not expire. It is not deleted or removed after, say, five years. Rather, it remains in effect until:
Likewise, arrest warrants generally don’t expire until the person is apprehended or the court recalls the warrant.
BWs in California do not expire because, if they did, it would encourage bad and dishonest behavior. People subject to a warrant would spend a period of time avoiding a judge, or lying to a court, in order to escape arrest.
Clearing a BW is also referred to as “recalling” or “quashing” one. Quashing a bench warrant means having it cleared from California’s judicial system.
A party must appear in court in order to recall a warrant.
A person can have his attorney appear in court on the person’s behalf, provided that:
If, though, a person failed to obey a court order that arose out of a felony case, the party must be present in court personally (with or without an attorney) in order to clear a BW.
In trying to quash a bench warrant, a party (or his attorney) can try to do so by arguing that:
It is critical for a party to contact an experienced California warrants attorney when trying to recall a BW.
Please note that if a person appears in court in an attempt to clear a warrant, the judge does have the option to place the party in custody. Thus, a lawyer is important to help ensure that this does not happen.
A knowledgeable attorney is also helpful because he/she will know:
If a party does not clear a BW, law enforcement personnel have the authority to arrest the person and bring the party to court.
Once brought to court, the judge can either:
The judge will make this decision after considering the person’s:
Please also note that if a BW does not get recalled, it could lead to:
As stated above, one of the reasons a BW may get issued is if a person fails to appear for a court appearance. Failure to appear (“FTA”) is a crime in California.
If a party willfully fails to appear on a scheduled court date for a misdemeanor, the prosecution will additionally charge him with FTA as a misdemeanor. If found guilty of the charge, then per California Penal Code 1320, the defendant can face a maximum $1,000 fine and a maximum six-month county jail sentence.
If a party willfully fails to appear for a felony case, the prosecution will additionally charge him with felony FTA. Under Penal Code 1320 PC, if convicted, the accused may face a minimum $5,000 fine and a county jail or state prison sentence.
A former Los Angeles prosecutor, attorney Neil Shouse graduated with honors from UC Berkeley and Harvard Law School (and completed additional graduate studies at MIT). He has been featured on CNN, Good Morning America, Dr Phil, Court TV, The Today Show and Court TV. Mr Shouse has been recognized by the National Trial Lawyers as one of the Top 100 Criminal and Top 100 Civil Attorneys.
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