There several types of warrants that you should be aware of in Massachusetts. One of the most common is what is known as a bench warrant. This is warrant ordered by a judge against you in a criminal or civil case. Such a warrant may be issued by a judge for a variety of reasons. Some of the most common are for failing to show up on court for trial, which often is referred to as FTA.
In the case of a more serious criminal case, failing to appear in court may lead to what is known as an arrest warrant. This type of warrant leads to immediate efforts to find and jail the defendant. But in the case of a bench warrant, in most cases the police will not actively search you out and arrest you.
Rather, for a bench warrant, your name goes into a database that services all of the law enforcement community. When your name is in that database, if you have any dealings with the police, you can be taken into custody on that outstanding bench warrant. This could include if you are a victim in a traffic accident, even if you were not at fault. Note that the issuance of a bench warrant can also result in your driver’s license being suspended.
In some cases, you may not have been aware that you had a warrant issued for your arrest because you have changed addresses. But note that even if you changed addresses and did not receive the court papers, you still are responsible to show up in court.
Warrant Custody Process
After you are taken into custody, you will need to pay bail to be released. Usually, bench warrant bail for not appearing in court will cover fines and court costs for the original offense and also for the failure to appear. Then, you will be given another court date.
If you are aware there is a bench warrant out for you, you can contact the clerk of court or the police department. Make arrangements to come in and pay bail so that the warrant is canceled. It is a good idea to learn how to pay the bail, because usually a personal check will not be enough, and not all localities take credit cards yet.
If you posted bail and then you missed the court date, that money has probably been forfeited. But, if you had a good reason for not being in court and did not call, you may in some cases be able to persuade the judge to give you that bail back. Or, you might be able to have it credited towards your costs and fines. The best lawyers can have a bench warrant removed for you without you even appearing in court.
Having a Warrant Removed
A bench warrant can have many serious consequences, but it is possible to have this issue cleared up if the proper actions are taken. So, you should address the issues that led to the warrant as soon as you can. It is wise to have an experienced lawyer in warrants handle the case so that you can limit the consequences.
A good lawyer will work to remove your bench warrant by filing all motions with the court, work with the prosecutor on the case, and will appear in court on your behalf.
What Is the Difference Between an Arrest and Bench Warrant?
A bench warrant is issued by a judge when you violate the rules of the court, such as for failure to appear. On the other hand, the arrest warrant process is handled by the police. The police file a statement telling the judge why you should be arrest, ie you are thought to have committed a crime.