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Practices - California Bench Warrants

California Bench Warrants

In California, the most common type of warrant is a bench warrant. A bench warrant is issued “from the bench” or by a judge. Unlike a search warrant or an arrest warrant, a California bench warrant is not issued due to criminal activity. The most common reasons a bench warrant is issued are:

  1. Failure to pay a fine,
  2. Failure to appear in court,
  3. Failure to do community service/sign up for classes/anything else ordered by the court.

Failing to follow the orders of the court, such as the examples listed above, will result in the issuance of a bench warrant. Consequences of a bench warrant can include:

  1. A sentence to California state prison or county jail,
  2. More fines,
  3. A probation violation,
  4. Suspension of your California driver’s license.

As a result of a previous criminal conviction, I have to make payments or take some sort of class. I’m just a bit behind, or forgot to sign up for a class, and a bench warrant was issued. Is this really a big deal?
Yes! Although bench warrants are issued for things that may seem minor to the public, a bench warrant is very serious. California courts view any failure, no matter how small, of a court order to be contempt of court.

A bench warrant is issued to force the defendant back into court, so that the defendant may be punished or at least brought back into compliance with the requirements of the court that have been placed upon him.

Imagine that you had a DUI two years ago. You were ordered to complete an Alcohol Education Class, pay fines, and take a MADD Victim Impact Panel. You fell a bit behind on payments due to the tough economy, and never made good on those late payments. Now, driving into work two years later, you are stopped by a police officer for speeding and there is a bench warrant with your name on it. You are arrested, your car may be impounded, and now you have to make bail or sit in jail until you can see a judge. You have to pay a large amount of money to get your car out of impound, and your life is put on hold until you take care of the bench warrant.

Furthermore, you may be found in violation of your DUI probation due to the bench warrant, and face a probation violation in addition to the bench warrant. You might lose your CA Driver’s License again, which is a huge burden on your career and your family. You may have to pay thousands of dollars in bail to remain out of custody. This is how a minor failure to comply with the orders of the court can snowball into something much more serious – and expensive!

The bench warrant attorneys at the Law Offices of Pereira & Moffatt handle Orange County bench warrants on a regular basis. We have seen small problems, such as being behind on payments to the court, turn into big problems. Don’t let this happen to you!

What can the California bench warrant attorneys from the Law Offices of Pereira & Moffatt do for me?
Our Orange County criminal defense attorneys will go to court and fight to have your bench warrant “recalled”, or rescinded. If your bench warrant was issued due to a court order that arises out of a misdemeanor case, we can appear on your behalf and you don’t have to spend a day in court.

Let’s take a look at some common situations people find themselves in when dealing with a bench warrant in Orange County.

Complications Due To Probation Violations
If the failure to comply with the orders of the court has resulted in a probation violation, we can help with that as well! It is important to note that sometimes a probation violation can be resolved with no additional fines or jail time. In this instance, the judge will “revoke and re-instate” probation.

Other times, admission to a violation of probation may result in new penalties, such as the suspension of your CA Driver’s License. Discuss the possibility of a probation violation with your bench warrant attorney from the Law Offices of Pereira & Moffatt and we can explain your options and the potential consequences of admitting to a probation violation.

Failure to Appear in Court
When a defendant willfully fails to appear for a scheduled court hearing or any other reason, a bench warrant may be issued.

Other reasons to be charged with an “FTA” include failure to come to court and show proof of completion of a class (such as a DUI or Domestic Violence class), failure to appear in court for a “progress report” while on probation, or failure to respond to a jury summons (“jury duty”).

Even if you have granted your attorney the authority to appear in court on your behalf, sometimes an Orange County court will require your personal appearance in court, such as in domestic violence arraignments and sentencing. You may be charged with a Failure to Appear or “FTA” even if your attorney is present in court.

Depending on whether the case on which you failed to appear was a misdemeanor or felony, you may be charged with a misdemeanor or felony FTA.

A misdemeanor FTA can carry a $1,000 fine and 6 months in a county jail.

A felony FTA can carry a minimum $5,000 fine and a sentence in county jail or California state prison.

The California bench warrant attorneys from the Law Offices of Pereira & Moffatt can fight your Failure to Appear charges as well as fighting to recall your California bench warrant in Orange County.

Failure to Pay Fines or Restitution
A California bench warrant may be issued if you have willfully failed to pay court fines or court ordered restitution. However, the court cannot punish you for failing to pay fines if you are financially incapable of doing so.

If you find yourself working again and can afford to make payments to the court, however small, contact the bench warrant attorneys at the Law Offices of  Pereira & Moffatt before willfully failing to make payments and risking the “snowball effect” we described earlier. Our bench warrant attorneys have great relationships in Southern California courts, and can often times negotiated reasonable payments as low as $50-$100 per month so that you can make a good faith attempt to follow the orders of the court while working within your budget.

If you are unemployed and financially incapable of making any kind of payments, there may be alternative means of fulfilling your obligations to the court that will not involve making payments. If you find yourself in this unfortunate situation, please contact the bench warrant attorneys at the Law Offices of Pereira & Moffatt for more information.

Bail associated with a California Bench Warrant
The bench warrant attorneys from the Law Offices of Natalio Pereira can end up saving you money in the long run, especially if we are able to have the court recall your bench warrant without having to pay thousands of dollars in bail! The money you save by not having to pay out of pocket or contact a bail bondsman is often times more than the money you’d pay our attorneys to assist you with your case!

However, sometimes there are situations where the court insists that a bail amount be paid. We work closely with bail bondsman to get you the lowest rates possible, and to be sure that bail is paid on the spot as the court orders it, so you don’t spend any more time in custody! Your bench warrant attorney from the Law Offices of Pereira & Moffatt will fight for you, and if the court demands that you pay bail, then we will fight to have the bail amount reduced as much as possible to save you money!

Can I go to court and deal with the bench warrant myself?
Yes. Spending time in court rooms where judges and commissioners deal specifically with bench warrants, our bench warrant attorneys see a large amount of regular people just like you fight for themselves. There are two reasons to hire a bench warrant attorney from the Law Offices of Pereira & Moffatt to handle your bench warrant.

First, we are very experienced and have great relationships with our local Orange County courts. We know how to use every tool at our disposal to get you the best results possible. If your bench warrant stems from a misdemeanor violation, you don’t have to take a day off from work to spend hours in court waiting to stand in front of the judge, and then waiting in the hallways for paperwork to be processed.

Our bench warrant attorneys will handle everything and be in immediate contact with you so that you know what needs to be done in order to avoid jail time or paying bail, and getting back on track with fulfilling your obligations to the court.

Second, if you appear in court on your California bench warrant, prepare to be taken into custody that same day. It is not uncommon for a judge to determine that a defendant’s arguments are not sufficient to recall a bench warrant, and order the bailiff to put handcuffs on you in front of a courtroom full of people, taking you into custody. This is a common occurrence and a very embarrassing situation. Even if you are required to appear in court on a California bench warrant, it is best to have a bench warrant attorney from the Law Offices of Pereira & Moffatt by your side.

We have successfully used a variety of arguments and alternative solutions to incarceration on Orange County bench warrants, and will do everything possible to keep you from being taken into custody!

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