In Pennsylvania, courts are permitted to order bench warrants when defendants miss important court dates. These documents essentially direct law enforcement officers who come into contact with the subject of the warrant to arrest him or her on sight. Fortunately, there are ways to avoid these types of arrests, so if you were recently notified that a bench warrant has been issued for your arrest, it is important to contact a Philadelphia criminal defense attorney who can assist you.
When are Bench Warrants Issued?
Bench warrants are usually issued against complainants and defendants who miss a court date without notifying the judge. Once issued, any law enforcement officers who detain the individual can arrest him or her without cause. Furthermore, once arrested, defendants could be held in contempt and officially have their bail revoked. In addition to these penalties, defendants could face a jail sentence of up to six months as well as a hefty fine.
Removing a Bench Warrant?
In most cases, the only way that a person can have a bench warrant lifted, is to turn him or herself in to the court. Once a person has taken this step, the court will schedule a bench warrant hearing within 72 hours. At the hearing, the judge will remove the warrant and then determine whether or not to reinstate, revoke, or raise bail. If the D.A. moves for contempt, the court will also schedule a separate hearing on that issue. Once a warrant has been lifted, the court will reschedule the meeting that the defendant initially missed. For example, if a person missed his or her preliminary hearing, the judge will reschedule it for another date. In some rare cases, the court will hold a hearing or trial in the defendant’s absence, but only if it determines that he or she willfully failed to appear.
To avoid the more severe penalties, defendants who have had a bench warrant issued against them are strongly urged to voluntarily turn themselves in and to retain an attorney for the subsequent hearing. Those who fail to turn themselves in are almost always arrested and held at a correctional facility where they will wait until a judge can see them.
Call Today to Speak With a Philadelphia Criminal Defense Attorney
Even mistakenly missing a hearing or trial date can have serious consequences for defendants who may have their bail revoked, be required to pay thousands of dollars to the court, be forced to serve an additional jail sentence, and face the stresses of another arrest. Having the advice and guidance of an experienced criminal defense attorney can make all the difference in the outcome of these types of cases, so if you were arrested for committing an offense and later missed an important court date, please contact van der Veen, Hartshorn, Levin & Lindheim in Philadelphia by calling (215) 486-0123 to speak with a criminal defense attorney who can walk you through the process of voluntarily turning yourself in. You can also reach us by initiating a live chat with a member of our legal team or by sending us a brief online message.