When a person violates a "court order," a judge may issue a bench warrant. Court orders may include (1) attending a mandatory court appearance; (2) paying a fine or court fee; (3) completing a court-ordered class or counseling; (4) complying with other pretrial or post-conviction release conditions such avoiding new citations or arrests; or (5) paying child support. Once the judge issues a bench warrant for violating a court order, law enforcement may now arrest that person. When issuing the warrant, the judge may or may not set bail depending on the facts and circumstances of the violation, meaning that after an arrest, a person may remain in custody for several days before appearing before the judge.
RESOLVING BENCH WARRANTS
The easiest way to resolve a bench warrant is by filing a "motion to quash" with the appropriate court. A motion to quash requests a hearing before a judge to explain (out-of-custody) why the person did not violate a court order or why he or she deserves a second chance. At the hearing, the judge will first quash the warrant to discuss the alleged violation and then impose any penalty (if necessary) for the non-compliance.
Resolving a bench warrant before contact with law enforcement or traveling domestically or abroad is strongly recommended. A bench warrant may also result in negative consequences for school and work, such as the inability to renew some professional licenses. Some bench warrants may even prohibit a person from lawfully driving a motor vehicle until a "clearance letter" sent to the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles. So before filing a motion to quash, a person may therefore wish to speak with an experienced, knowledgeable criminal defense attorney to determine the basis for the bench warrant and how to resolve it. An attorney can then help navigate any consequences for violating a court order, such as failing to appear for a mandatory court appearance or paying a fine or fee. An attorney may even be able to resolve some bench warrants without the person having to appear before the court.
After a law enforcement officer investigates an alleged crime, the prosecuting attorney may request an arrest warrant after "screening" the case. To request an arrest warrant, the prosecuting attorney submits evidence to a judge or magistrate that demonstrates sufficient "probable cause" to justify an arrest. Probable cause requires more than just bare suspicion but is less than what is necessary to sustain a conviction ("proof beyond a reasonable doubt"). After determining that probable cause exists, the judge will sign the arrest warrant and set bail in most circumstances. Law enforcement may now arrest the person at his or her home, place of business, during a traffic stop, or during any other encounter with law enforcement, even if the person was the one that contacted law enforcement or engaging in lawful business in court elsewhere, such as family court or while resolving a traffic ticket.
RESOLVING ARREST WARRANTS
Unless the person is already aware of the criminal investigation, most persons do not know they have an arrest warrant until they are arrested by a law enforcement officer. Unlike a bench warrant (discussed above), an arrest warrant cannot be solved by simply "quashing" the warrant. Unfortunately, it is rarely that simple and some arrests require a mandatory detention for twelve (12) hours or more. Depending on the facts and circumstances, a person may therefore wish to "self-surrender" (be arrested) on their own time in order to resolve the arrest warrant. This can avoid the embarrassment of being arrested at home or work and an experienced, knowledgeable criminal defense attorney will know who to contact to arrange a self-surrender. If the person intends to post bond or bail, a self-surrender may also ensure a faster and more efficient booking and processing time at the jail.
Another method to resolve an arrest warrant is to contact an experienced, knowledgeable criminal defense attorney and request a motion to voluntary appear (out-of-custody) before a judge and address the warrant. Instead of self-surrendering to law enforcement or the jail directly, this motion allows the person to appear before a judge and request an "own recognizance release," meaning that the judge will set bail to $0; a bail reduction; or other "pretrial release conditions," such as house arrest or electronic supervision. Like a self-surrender, this motion may also ensure a faster and more efficient booking and processing time at the jail.
Resolving an arrest warrant before having contact with law enforcement or traveling domestically or abroad is strongly recommended. An arrest warrant can also result in negative consequences for school and work, such as the inability to renew some professional licenses. Therefore, whether a person intends to self-surrender or appear before a judge voluntarily to resolve the arrest warrant, it is strongly advised that the person speak with an experienced, knowledgeable criminal defense attorney that can help navigate this process.
VASEK LAW has filed countless motions before courts in Southern Nevada to resolve arrest warrants and bench warrants for clients across the United States and the world. However, not every bench warrant is the same and the outcome of the motion may depend upon many factors, such as the reason for the bench warrant, when the court issued the bench warrant, what judge issued the bench warrant, and what prosecuting attorney is present the day of the motion. Similarly, not every arrest warrant is the same and the outcome of the motion may depend upon factors such as where the case was filed, what judge the case was assigned, what prosecuting attorney is present the day of the motion, and a person's prior criminal history and ties to the community. Speak with Attorneys BRIAN VASEK or MARYAM VASEK to discuss your options and before taking further action. They even offer FREE CONSULTATIONS.
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