Bench Warrants

Just because there is a warrant out for your arrest does not mean you are definitely going to jail.  Rather, if you are proactive and take the proper steps there is a good chance that you can avoid even spending a minute behind bars.  It is always advisable to hire a lawyer to help you through the process, but either way the first step to fixing the situation is figuring out what type warrant is out there and where it came from.  Bench warrants are the most common type of warrant in Maryland, and they are typically issued for failing to appear in court or for violating probation.   Bench warrants do not have time limits, and will stay in the system forever until served by a police officer or recalled or quashed by a judge.  After a police officer serves a warrant he or she doesn’t just drop you off at home, so figuring out a way to have a judge recall the warrant is clearly the preferred option here.  You can accomplish this by filing a motion to recall the warrant in the court where it was issued or by writing a letter to the judge.   A good motion will explain the reasons for the failure to appear, or in the case of a violation of probation bring up any positives in the defendant’s life.  Both motions should stress that the defendant is sincere about resolving the case and is committed to showing up for court, which is why taking the step of hiring an attorney is important message to send to the judge.

Some people can live with a warrant for years and never think twice about it, but these people are certainly in the minority.  The prospect of getting arrested when you least expect it should be enough of an incentive to take action, especially for those who travel and drive a lot.  The most common interactions that citizens have with police are out on the highway and a minor traffic stop for an infraction can lead to a nightmare for someone with an active warrant.  The consequences are magnified if you are stopped out of state, as in some cases you can be held for over a month waiting for the extradition process to play out on a felony warrant.

If a defendant fails to appear for a traffic or misdemeanor case the judge will likely order that the commissioner set bail.  If the commissioner denies bail the defendant will appear the next business day for a bail review hearing.   Commissioners and judges vary greatly throughout the state, and some defendants in Baltimore City or Harford County for example could be held in custody while a Prince George’s County or Baltimore County defendant will be released on recognizance for the same type of case.  The moral is that you never know what the commissioner will do and you certainly don’t know what the judge will do the next day in court at a video bail review.  For violation of probation cases the judge has the option to issue a summons to appear or a bench warrant, and if it’s the latter the judge will either set a bail, order a no bail hold or instruct the commissioner to set bail in the case of a district court VOP.  Circuit court probation warrants typically carry no bail holds, but this doesn’t mean a judge won’t consider recalling the warrant in lieu of issuing a summons, especially for technical violations.  If you have a district or circuit court VOP warrant it is important to file a motion as quickly as possible so you don’t risk incurring more violations for failing to report, and also to show that you are committed to showing up for court.  Probation officers will continue to ask their defendants to report if there is an outstanding warrant.  What they won’t say is that there will be a cop waiting at the office with handcuffs ready to serve the warrant, or that failing to show up will just lead to an additional violation.  It may seam like you’re going to jail either way, but this simply isn’t true.

The police will not come banging on your door for a traffic warrant, and they probably won’t show up at your place of work to take you to jail for failing to appear in court on a minor charge.  But there is no point in living with the constant threat of arrest when you can do something about it.  Benjamin Herbst has successfully filed dozens of warrant recall motions, and in many cases his clients didn’t spend one minute in a police station or holding cell.  Call Benjamin anytime at 410-207-2598 to start the process of getting rid of your warrant and closing your case for good.
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