Bench and Arrest Warrant

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A bench warrant is an order issued by a judge for the attachment or arrest of a person.

The name of a process sometimes given to an attachment issued by order of a court, against an individual for some contempt, or for the purpose of arresting a person accused. There are many reasons why a judge may issue a bench warrant.  Including:


A Judge will issue a bench warrant for failure to appear in Court (otherwise known as an "FTA") when you have promised to do so. The bench warrant is then entered into the Department of Justice computer system. Be careful!  If you are stopped by a police officer, a systems check by your California driver's license number will reveal the warrant and you will be arrested and brought before the Court. Very often, bail will be denied when you have failed to appear on prior occasions.
  **This can even happen in a traffic case!

  • FAILURE TO PAY FINES: A Judge will issue a bench warrant for failure to pay a fine. Again, if you are stopped by a police officer, he will locate the warrant in the system and you can be arrested and brought before a Judge.
  • FAILURE TO APPEAR FOR SENTENCING OR CONVICTION (that the warrant could have been issued after there was a plea or trial but before sentence was imposed)
  • If you choose to represent yourself in these types of matters, you are at a huge disadvantage. First of all, you may be arrested and taken into custody as soon as you walk into court. An experienced attorney will be able to recall the warrant and in many cases avoid you being taken into custody.


Generally, in a misdemeanor case your appearance is not requred and I can appear on your behalf if retained.   If you did not appear (and you did not hire an attorney) and failed to appear, I can appear for you to request that the bench warrant be stayed or recalled.  Once the bench warrant is recalled, I can arraign you on the charges that are pending and set a pre-trial date to discuss your case with the District Attorney. Having the bench warrant recalled or set aside will avoid having the Judge taking you into custody.


In a felony case, your presence will be required for me to request that the Judge recall the bench warrant. If the warrant is recalled in front of the Judge, he may want you to post bail since you have shown him that you will not appear on your written promise.

DMV consequences:

A bench warrant may result iny our license being suspended by theDepartment of Motor Vehicles ("DMV"). Once the FTA is cleared, you will have to pay a fee to get an abstract from the clerk of the court. An abstract is a document issued by the clerk of the court and submitted to DMV to show proof of that the FTA is cleared (by recalling the bench warrant). DMV may also charge you a fee to reinstate your license.

*An Arrest Warrant is different than a Bench Warrant. In an arrest warrant the police obtain a formal document signed by a judge requesting the arrest of a person. An arrest warrant is generated after an investigation by law enforcement whereby they have a reasonable suspicion that some criminal activity has occurred.

Call me at (408)876-7448 for legal guidance.  I am available 24 hours a day.