In Nevada, a bench warrant is a judicial order authorizing police to arrest a criminal defendant for defying court orders. Las Vegas judges typically issue bench warrants if the defendant missed a mandatory court appearance or certain fine payments.1
1. How do I check if I have a warrant in Clark County?
People may check warrant status online or by phone.
Warrant check court website
Warrant check court phone number
(Henderson Justice Court also maintains an updated list.)
For Henderson Justice Court, call (702) 455-7951
People can also call a criminal defense attorney to check their status for them.
2. Can I be arrested if I have a bench warrant?
Many Clark County bench warrant arrests happen during traffic stops. Once the police runs the driver's name and find an active warrant, the police will arrest him/her immediately.
People with an active warrant should contact an attorney right away to try get it recalled ("quashed"). In the meantime, they should lay low and try to avoid driving. Also they should not visit friends or family in jail: Jail guards may run visitors' names to check their status.
3. How do I get the warrant removed?
The first step is to file a motion to quash with the proper Nevada court. This motion asks the judge to hold a hearing about whether to remove the warrant.
The court clerk will usually schedule this hearing two-to-five days later. During this waiting period, the defendant can still get arrested.
3.1. Bench warrant hearings
At the hearing, the defense attorney will ask the judge to quash the warrant. The judge will probably comply unless the defendant has a history of missing court appearances and defying court orders.
If the bench warrant had a bail amount attached to it, the defense attorney will also ask the judge to "exonerate the bail." Once the bail is exonerated, the defendant is no longer obligated to pay it.
In many cases, defendants are not required to appear at these hearings as long as their attorney is there. But the judge may require the defendant to appear in person if:
- the case involves a felony;4
- the defendant has a lengthy criminal history;
- the defendant is a flight risk; and/or
- there was no satisfactory excuse for the defendant defying court orders
Once the warrant is set aside, the underlying criminal case against the defendant can proceed.
4. Will this show on a background check?
It depends on the specific background check. Some search for outstanding warrants, and others do not.
Either way, people with outstanding warrants should get the matter resolved as soon as possible. If it does show up on a background check, it may turn off potential employers.
Background checks always include:
- arrest records
- past or current criminal charges
But it may be possible to get a criminal record sealed from future background checks. Learn more about sealing criminal records in Las Vegas.
5. Does a bench warrant ever expire?
No. Bench warrants remain active until the judge quashes them.
Many defendants in Clark County have had bench warrants for years. Some of them do not even know they have a warrant.
6. How is a bench warrant different from an arrest warrant?
Arrest warrants signal the start of a criminal case. In contrast, bench warrants can issue at any time throughout a criminal case.
Secondly, an arrest warrant indicates what charges the defendant will face in the case. In contrast, bench warrants only concern court rules that the defendant allegedly violated while the criminal case was ongoing.
Finally, the police have to ask judges to issue arrest warrants.5 In contrast, judges -- called "the bench" -- can issue bench warrants on their own without prosecutors having to request them.
Call a Nevada criminal defense attorney...
Do you need an attorney for a criminal case in Clark County or elsewhere Nevada? We invite you to have a FREE consultation with one of our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys. Call us at 702-DEFENSE (702-333-3673) today.
¿Habla español? Más información sobre las órdenes judiciales de detención inmediata en Nevada.
In California? See our article about California bench warrants.
In Colorado? See our article on Colorado bench warrants.
Our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys quash bench warrants and handle all other criminal matters throughout Clark and Washoe Counties, including Henderson, Boulder City, North Las Vegas, Mesquite, Laughlin, Goodsprings, Moapa, Moapa Valley, Bunkerville, Searchlight, Pahrump, and Reno.
- NRS 22.040; Jaeger v. State, 113 Nev. 1275, 948 P.2d 1185 (1997) (Judge issued a bench warrant where a defendant did not complete community service requirements); In re Mosely, 120 Nev. 908, 102 P.3d 555 (2004) (Judge issued a bench warrant where a defendant defied terms of a plea bargain).
- See NRS 178.508.
- NRS 171.106.