ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

How to Vacate a Bench Warrant

Updated on November 23, 2013
JasonStern profile image

Jason Stern is one of New York's top criminal defense attorneys, recognized and highly acclaim by his peers, clients and legal organizations

What is a Bench Warrant?

A bench warrant is issued when a criminal defendant fails to appear in court on the specified court date. The bench warrant is NOT issued by police or the district attorney -- it is issued by the presiding judge. Because of this, the only person who can vacate a bench warrant is the judge.

Every day in New York Criminal Courts, there are thousands of bench warrants issued for failure to appear. All bench warrants are entered into the New York Criminal Database and are immediately made available to all New York State police officers. In the event that a person with an outstanding bench warrant is pulled over by police or stopped on the street, he or she will be arrested and taken directly to jail for processing and will be held overnight until he is taken to the court where the outstanding warrant is pending.

Once before the court, the judge will determine whether or not to set bail or whether to provide the person with a second chance to return to court. The decision to set bail is up to the judge, but the District Attorney will make a bail application if the person has missed more than one court appearance and that bail application will be taken into consideration by the judge.

For most violations and misdemeanors, the police will not pursue a bench warrant by showing up at a person's house or apartment or place of business. However, for more serious crimes, such as felonies, the police will attempt to locate the whereabouts of the alleged felon and have him arrested. These police officers are usually in the Warrant Squad.

The Warrant Squad differs from a bail bondsman in that a bail bondsman is not a member of law enforcement or government and the bail bondsman does not attempt to retrieve a defendant unless bail has been posted. In the event that the defendant was released on his or her own recognizance (without a bail requirement), there is no bail bondsman.

Author Jason Stern

Author and New York Criminal Defense Attorney Jason Stern
Author and New York Criminal Defense Attorney Jason Stern

How to Find Out about a Bench Warrant

If a defendant failed to appear at a hearing or court appearance and his or her attorney did not successfully convince the judge to 'stay' (prevent) the bench warrant, then it is highly likely that there is an outstanding bench warrant for the defendant's arrest.

Most people become aware of an outstanding bench warrant in one of two ways:

  1. Arrest: The police have the absolute right to ask any person to produce identification. Once a person produces that identification, the police will run the ID and its information through the NYSCIS database. If the search turns up a hit, the police may ask for additional information. Once they confirm that the match is accurate, they will arrest the person and take them back to the police precinct for processing. This will occur whether the original charge was as trivial as an open container of alcohol or public urination violation or as serious as a murder charge. For many people, their first awareness of the bench warrant comes when stopped for a traffic violation or on the street and asked to produce identification. The identification matches up with the information in the police computer and that person is arrested and notified of the existence of the outstanding warrant. Because the person who is arrested is automatically returned to the court where the warrant was issued, the warrant is vacated at the time of the defendant's return to court and he or she does not need to do anything additional to vacate the warrant.
  2. Employment Background Check: The second manner in which individuals become aware of outstanding bench warrants is through a job background check that turns up the warrant for the job applicant. In this case, the employer has searched or had its sub-contractor search the NYSCIS and located the warrant that way. Many employers will give the applicant the benefit of the doubt and give them a few days or weeks to sort out the matter. Given this opportunity, most applicants will contact a criminal defense lawyer to find out the steps and procedures involved in vacating the bench warrant.

Although the process of vacating the bench warrant is not particularly complicated, the important thing to remember is this: At the time the bench warrant is vacated, the underlying matter (original case) will be dealt with immediately! This means that if a person was originally charged with assault and never returned on the court date, he can have the warrant vacated by voluntarily returning on the warrant to the court, but that once in front of the judge, the assault case will be dealt with. This means that having an excellent criminal defense lawyer by your side is mandatory.

Vacating the Warrant

In order to vacate a warrant, one needs to go to the Court where the original matter was pending. It is of no use to go to the criminal court in Brooklyn to vacate a warrant that was issued in Queens. Despite the seemingly obvious nature of this, every day people walk into the wrong court expecting to be able to vacate their outstanding warrants.

Once a person locates the court where the original missed court appearance was, he or she needs to go to the clerk's office.

  • One of the questions that is frequently asked is whether the person is likely to be arrested upon appearing in court. The answer is no because the clerk's office is not in the business of arresting people and the court officers at the security desk do not ask for identification.
  • Although unlikely, there IS the possibility that the clerk's office will notify the court officers or police if the person appearing on the voluntary return is considered a dangerous felon.

At the clerk's office, the person will be asked to provide identification and complete a short form. Once this is done, the clerk will usually direct the person to head directly to the courtroom where his or her case will be resolved. The time it takes to locate the file from the archives, have it reviewed by a supervising district attorney and make its way to the courtroom can vary from anywhere between one and six hours!

  • Attorney Tip: Having an attorney with you will usually result in your case being handled much more quickly than without an attorney. Typically cases are handled in this order: (1) Private attorney cases; (2) Cases in which the Defendant is locked up; (3) Public Defender cases; (4) Bench Warrant cases with Private attorney; and (5) Bench Warrant cases without private attorney.

Once the case reaches the court, it is handed to the Assistant District Attorney in that particular courtroom who reviews the recommendations of his or her Supervising District Attorney. When the case is called by the Court, the ADA may make an offer to resolve the case. On bench warrant cases, this offer is usually not as good as the offer that was originally made or would have been made had the defendant appeared at his or her original court appearance. The reason for this is that the ADA has a lot of leverage in this situation: If the defendant fails to accept the proposed deal, the ADA can make a bail application -- which means that the ADA will request that the judge require the defendant to post bail to secure his or her appearance at the next court date.

If the defendant turns down the proposed deal from the ADA and the judge grants the ADA's bail application, the defendant will be immediately handcuffed and returned to jail until proof is provided to the court that bail has been posted. Because of the likelihood of incarceration and the unfair amount of leverage possessed by the ADA in these matters, it is imperative that a defendant showing up in court on a voluntary return on a bench warrant is properly represented in court by an attorney who is capable of professionally handling the underlying charges.

  • Attorney Tip: If you ABSOLUTELY must do it yourself, always bring a friend along with PLENTY of cash or available credit, just in case bail is set at a large amount!

Bench Warrant Criminal Court 100 Centre Street

A
New York Bench Warrant Criminal Court 100 Centre Street NY NY:
100 Centre Street, New York, NY 10013, USA

get directions

All misdemeanor and felony bench warrants issued in New York County are returnable to 100 Centre Street

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)