Finding out a judge has issued a bench warrant against you can be alarming. It is important to know how to deal with a bench warrant before the police take you into custody. A bench warrant generally will not give the police the right to arrest you in your home unless you failed to appear in court for a serious criminal offense. However, it could lead to other consequences. Knowing how to respond to a bench warrant may take help from an Atlanta criminal defense attorney.
What Is a Bench Warrant in GA?
A bench warrant is an order a judge issues against someone for failing to appear in court at a scheduled date. It is a failure to appear on the bench, or the seat in front of a judge in a courtroom. If a judge issues a bench warrant against someone, it means that person has violated the rules of court. The police can treat a bench warrant like a regular arrest warrant in certain cases. They will have the right to use the warrant to bring the defendant in front of a judge to answer for his or her infractions.
How Serious Is a Bench Warrant?
A bench warrant in Georgia can be serious depending on the original offense and the circumstances of the incident. A failure to appear in court to answer for a serious crime can result in a regular arrest warrant rather than just a bench warrant. A typical bench warrant, however, will not mean the police will show up at your doorstep. It means your name will enter a statewide database that police officers can access. If you encounter the police in any regard while you have a bench warrant against you, the police can take you into custody and bring you before a judge.
Bench Warrant vs. Arrest Warrant
The main difference between a bench warrant and an arrest warrant is the person initiating the warrant. A judge issues a bench warrant, while a police officer initiates an arrest warrant. In an arrest warrant, the officer will issue a statement to a judge explaining why he or she believes the person named in the warrant has committed a crime. If the judge agrees there is probable cause for the individual’s arrest, he or she will grant the warrant and give the police permission to make an arrest. An officer will then have the right to show up at the individual’s door and arrest him or her.
Can I Pay for a Warrant Without Going to Jail?
It is possible to settle your bench warrant without setting foot behind bars in Georgia. You must find out whether you have a warrant against you and take steps to clear the warrant before encountering the police. If you can deal with the issue that originally led to the bench warrant, the judge will clear the warrant. If you cannot resolve the issue or do not hear about a bench warrant against you until you encounter the police, they may hold you in jail until your new court date.
Deal with a bench warrant by calling the clerk of court in the county that issued the warrant. Explain to the clerk that you have a bench warrant against you and would like to resolve the matter. You can also call the local police department’s non-emergency number and arrange a date to come in and pay your bail. This will result in a recall of the warrant without having to go to jail. Find out what forms of payment the courts take and pay what it takes to settle the warrant. Usually, this will be enough to pay off your original ticket or infraction, plus additional costs and fees for the bench warrant.
How Do I Check if I Have a Warrant in Georgia?
The courts will send you a letter notifying you that a judge has issued a bench warrant against you. If you lose this letter or it never arrived, however, you can check for warrants in Georgia through the online government registry. Enter your information and the website will immediately tell you if you have any warrants – bench and arrest. You can also call and ask the court clerk in your county if there are any records of bench warrants against you. Keeping up with warrants can enable you to clear the issue before the police have the opportunity to take you into custody.