|Written by Kristie Raburn|
Warrants are issued for many reasons and not all of them will result in jail time. Bench Warrants are basically a demand by the court for you to come see them. If you find you have a bench warrant out for your arrest, it is best to clear the warrant as soon as possible by appearing in court of your own free will. Otherwise, any police officer who stops you for a traffic violation or any other reason can do an immediate warrant search and you will be detained by the officer and most likely placed in custody and in the back seat of the police car. Warrants can be issued for past child support, unpaid parking fines and other minor things. Regardless of the reason for the warrant, do not let a warrant stay active. Here are some basic steps to clear a warrant in the state of California. Other states have similar guidelines, you can check on-line for free bench warrant searches and to find whom to contact in your state and county to clear a warrant for arrest.
Things You'll Need: Telephone, Internet Access, Your Case Number or Ticket Number
If you are not sure if a bench warrant is out for your arrest, you can visit your county's on-line services web page and do a name search or you can contact the local Sheriff's Department. Do this immediately upon missing a scheduled court day or when you receive notice a warrant has been issued.
If you currently have an attorney or are represented by an attorney in any type of case, inform him or her immediately that you may have an arrest warrant out for you. The attorney can place you on the court's calendar to clear it up, which may keep you out of jail.
If you do not have an attorney, call the local sheriff or police department and find out which court issued the warrant and what the warrant number or case number is
You can either hire your own attorney to take care of calendaring it (getting you an appearance date at court) or you can calendar it (schedule your court appoint) yourself by going to the court clerk's office and giving them your warrant number or case number.
Between the date of your court appointment and the day you actually appear in court, you can be arrested. It is best to appear in court as soon as possible to clear up the problem. Quite often, if you appear at court before 8:30 a.m., Monday through Friday, you can stay and take care of the matter that same day. Keep in mind, there are no guarantees that you will not be arrested on the warrant until you appear in court.
There are several possibilities of what may happen to you once you appear in court. You can usually resolve the matter that day if it is a minor one, such as paying fines or you missed a court appearance. You can also set the matter for further court proceedings on another date if you feel you need more time.
The court will then recall (or cancel) the warrant, set future hearing dates, and either release you on your "own recognizance" or set bail. If bail is set, you will remain in custody until a bond is posted. There are several bail bond companies who can help you set bail.