A bench warrant authorizes police to arrest the person named on the document. As strange as it may seem, a lot of people don't realize there's a warrant out for their arrest until they're stopped by police for something completely unrelated, like a traffic violation. If you happen to learn through other means that the court has issued a warrant out for you, it may be possible for you to clear it using a bail bond. Here's what you need to do to make this happen.
Determine If There's Bail Attached
Warrants are issued for a variety of reasons, such as for failing to appear in court as required, not paying court fines and fees, and being charged with a crime. The reason for the warrant influences whether the judge will attach a bail amount to the document that you can pay to avoid going to jail. For example, a judge will typically allow bail on a warrant for someone who failed to pay a slew of parking tickets but will only issue a body warrant (no bail allowed) for a person who committed a capital crime.
Your first step is to determine if the warrant for your arrest allows you to pay bail. You can usually get this information by calling the court where the warrant was issued or performing a warrant search on the county website if that's available. You can also call the police and ask about the warrant, but you may want to take precautions if you don't want them showing up at your residence or workplace.
Regardless of how you get the information, be certain to jot down the case number because you'll it need to post bail.
Post Bail with the Courthouse
If the warrant does let you post bail, then the next step is to post the amount with the courthouse. You can do this in person by paying the full amount in cash. As long as you fulfill the terms of your release (e.g. show up for your court appointments), you'll get the money back at the end of the case.
The other option is to post bail through a bondsman. The company will pay the bail and you'll only have to pay their fee for the service, which is typically around 10 percent of the bail amount. Unlike when you pay cash for the bond, you won't get this money back when the case ends. Additionally, if you fail to follow the court's orders and the bail gets forfeited as a result, you'll have to repay the amount the company put up on your behalf.
It's important to follow up with the court after you pay the bail to determine what the next step is. In most cases, you'll either have to show up for your court appointments or pay the money you owe. However, in some cases, you may be required to turn yourself in to the police. Since you already prepaid bail for the warrant, you'll typically be released after the department fills out the appropriate paperwork.
Contact an Attorney
As mentioned previously, not all warrants allow the defendants to bail out of them. It's best to contact an attorney for assistance with this issue. The attorney can talk to the judge about allowing you to bail out of jail or be released on your own recognizance. While the lawyer is working on that issue, take a moment to prepare yourself by making arrangements with family or a bail bond company to get bailed out when that option becomes available.
For more information about or help with clearing a warrant, contact a local bail bond company like Absolute Bail Bonds.