A “bench warrant” is an order issued by a judge for law enforcement to locate you, detain you, and bring you into court to answer for violating a rule or order of the court. This typically happens when you miss a court date, don’t pay a fine, or violate the terms of your probation.
In Nevada, the only way to get the warrant recalled (“quashed“) is by filing a motion with the court and having a hearing in front of the judge.
1. How do I check if I have a warrant in Clark County?
You may check your warrant status online or by phone.
|Warrant search court website
|Warrant check court phone number
|Las Vegas Justice Court traffic
Las Vegas Justice Court criminal
|Las Vegas Municipal Court
|All other Justice Courts except Las Vegas
(Henderson Justice Court also maintains an updated list.)
|For Henderson Justice Court, call (702) 455-7951
|North Las Vegas Municipal Court
|Henderson Municipal Court
You can also call a criminal defense attorney to check the status of your outstanding warrants. 1
2. Can I be arrested if I have a bench warrant?
Yes. However, in misdemeanor cases, law enforcement agencies probably will not go out and search for you. Under Nevada law, police are far more likely to expend their resources to search for you if you are accused of a felony.
Many Clark County bench warrant arrests happen during traffic stops. The police may intend only to hand out a traffic ticket, but once they run your name and find an active warrant, the police will arrest you immediately.
If you have an active warrant, contact an attorney right away to try to get it recalled (“quashing”). In the meantime, lay low and try to avoid driving. Also, do not visit friends or family in jail: Jail guards may run your name to check your status.
Note that having an outstanding warrant can potentially cause your driver’s license to be suspended. Therefore, check with the DMV to make sure your license is still valid before driving.
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, you can still get arrested.
(If the warrant is issued due to a late payment, you may be able to get the warrant recalled simply by making the payment. Call the court clerk for more details.)
3.1. Bench warrant hearings
At the bench warrant hearing, the defense attorney will ask the judge to quash the warrant. The judge will probably comply unless you have 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, you are no longer obligated to pay it.
In many cases, you are not required to appear at these court hearings as long as your attorney is there. Though the judge may require you to appear in person if:
- the case involves a felony criminal offense;4
- you have a lengthy criminal history;
- you are a flight risk; and/or
- there was no satisfactory excuse for you defying court orders (such as missing a court date)
Once the warrant is set aside, the underlying criminal case against you can proceed. If you are late on fine payments, the judge can also put you on a payment plan.
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, if you have an outstanding warrant, 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
However, it may be possible to get a criminal record sealed from future background checks. Learn more about sealing criminal records.
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 be issued at any time throughout a criminal case.
Secondly, an arrest warrant indicates what charges you will face in the case. In contrast, bench warrants only concern court rules that you 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 the District Attorney having to request them.
|Type of Warrant
|To arrest someone who failed to appear in court or comply with court orders.
|Failure to appear in court or follow court orders
|To arrest a person suspected of committing a crime.
|Judge or Magistrate
|Probable cause to believe someone committed a crime
|To search a specific location for specific evidence of a crime.
|Judge or Magistrate
|Probable cause to believe evidence is present
- 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.