How Long Do You Stay in Jail for a Bench Warrant?

A Court Hearing on a Bench Warrant

What is a bench warrant?

Do you know what a bench warrant is? Most of us don’t until we’ve received one! A bench warrant is another type of arrest warrant that is usually issued by a judge.  When is a bench warrant issued? In Indiana, as in most other states, a bench warrant is issued when a defendant facing other charges fails to appear before the courts as instructed. 

A bench warrant gives any law enforcement officer the authority to arrest the named defendant. They are then taken to jail and placed in holding until they are called to be presented to the judge and answer the charges against them regarding the bench warrant. Any previous charges that placed them in jail the first time will be addressed at a different court date.

A bench warrant may be released and put into action by the courts for a person with unpaid court costs and fines as well. In general, a bench warrant is issued for any cause the court finds a person in contempt. If you need bail after arrest on a bench warrant in Avon and Indianapolis, IN, just give us a call at 317-423-9300.

What are the possible consequences of a bench warrant? 

Every state may have different penalties for bench warrant arrests. In Indiana, the penalties for a bench warrant are as follows: 

  • A Class A Misdemeanor: Maximum 12 months in jail and a maximum fine of $5,000.
  • A Level 6 Felony: From 6 months to 30 months incarceration and maxim and a maximum fine up to $10,000. 
  • A failure to appear before the court for a traffic summons: Suspended driving privileges. If the failure to appear is between 120 days and 1 full year, the bail bond will be forfeited by the courts. 

What is the difference between a bench warrant and an arrest warrant? 

An arrest warrant and a bench warrant are different in how the process for each begins.  The arrest warrant process begins with a law enforcement officer. A bench warrant process begins with the reigning judge that the defendant didn’t appear before as instructed.  Both types of warrants are authorization for any law enforcement officer to place the defendant under arrest and transport them to jail to await being brought before the judge. 

How do I find out if I have a bench warrant? 

There are several ways to find out if there is a bench warrant issued in your name. While the state of Indiana does not have a database with this information, the individual cities and/or counties may have their own. This means you can contact the city or county you suspect of having a bench warrant and inquire. 

You can also have an attorney or bail bondsman check for your name on any bench warrant listing. Another option, and not the one most people do not want to do, is to go to the courthouse where your suspect you may be on a bench warrant and inquire. If you do this method, you should be prepared to be arrested on the spot. 

What is the difference between a bench warrant and a summons? 

A bench warrant is similar to an arrest warrant. You will be arrested and taken to jail, then held to appear before the judge. A summons is just what the word means: It summons you to appear before the courts, but you are not arrested. If you don’t appear as required on the summons, then a bench warrant will be issued. 

How long does a bench warrant stay active? 

Forever. A bench warrant in the state of Indiana does not have an expiration date. It will remain active until the defendant named on the bench warrant passes away. 

How can I clear a bench warrant? 

There are two ways you clear a bench warrant in Indiana without being arrested: 

  • Turn yourself in where you will be processed as if you were arrested.
  • Have your defense attorney represent you in the courts. 
A Person in Handcuffs

In Closing 

If you have a court order to appear before the courts and don’t, maybe you forgot about the court date, or had an emergency, or you just don’t want to deal with the matter. None of these are excuses to the courts and a bench warranty will be issued for your arrest. 

If any of these situations mentioned, or another, prevents you from appearing for a court date, contact the court yourself, your defense attorney, or your bail bondsman.  Ignoring a court date is not the way to handle the matter – it will not go away. Having a bench warrant could get you a visitor at home, at work, or anywhere else you may go that will be embarrassing with an arrest and being handcuffed. 

If a law enforcement officer doesn’t appear at your home, work or elsewhere to arrest you with a bench warrant, you could be arrested during a basic traffic stop. When the officer asks for your driver’s license and returns to their car to ‘call it in’, this is what they are looking for: warrants in your name!