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Facing a Bench Warrant Illinois? Here's What You Need to Know

What Is a Bench Warrant?

 

A warrant is an order issued by a judge or any other person authorized by law that empowers a law enforcement officer to carry out a specific action and ensure the efficiency of the justice system.

There are several types of warrants issued for different purposes. Many people are familiar with search warrants and arrest warrants that give police officers the right to search a property or take a person into custody. These warrants are issued by a judge upon the application of law enforcement officers to enable them to investigate a criminal offense or apprehend a suspected criminal.

There is another type of warrant called the bench warrant. A bench warrant is an order issued by a judge authorizing the arrest of someone who has violated court rules. Unlike an arrest warrant, typically issued before charges are filed, a bench warrant comes after someone has already been involved in the legal system.

A bench warrant is serious and will not disappear if you ignore it. If one has been issued against you, you must deal with it appropriately or face serious sanctions, including possible jail time. In such circumstances, a criminal defense attorney can help you immediately take appropriate action.

In the meantime, please read on to understand how bench warrants in Illinois work and what you must do if one has been issued against you.

 

When Will a Judge Issue a Bench Warrant in Illinois?

 

A bench warrant is a powerful tool that judges use to protect the integrity and sanctity of the judicial system.

It differs from an arrest or warrant search because it is not issued upon the urging of police officers who have probable cause to suspect a crime and need a legal basis to investigate or make an arrest. When the police need such a warrant, they typically approach the judge in their chambers to obtain them. But with a bench warrant, things are different.

A judge sitting on the “bench” in the open courtroom can issue a bench warrant of their own volition against anyone who does anything that interferes with the judicial process or is contrary to the court’s rules. Acts that could lead to the issuance of a bench warrant include:

 

Failure To Appear at a Court Hearing

If you are required to appear in court to face trial or for any reason and fail to show up on the court date, the judge may issue a bench warrant against you to secure your attendance in court.

 

Failure To Obey a Court Order

Suppose a judge issues an order directing you to act in a certain way or do or refrain from certain acts. In that case, you must comply with the order even if you think the order is unfair. Flouting court orders could amount to contempt of court and could lead to a bench warrant being issued against you and the consequences that follow.

Most court orders can be modified or canceled. So, instead of disobeying them and risking a bench warrant, contact a lawyer for help if you feel the order terms are unnecessarily harsh. They can advise you appropriately and help you navigate the modification/cancelation procedure.

 

What Happens After a Bench Warrant Is Issued?

 

If a bench warrant is issued against you for any reason, you risk immediate arrest by the police. When arrested in such circumstances, you may be granted bail after posting a cash bond (paying a specific fee in exchange for your release). Otherwise, you could be detained until you are brought before the judge.

Even if you are granted bail after a bench warrant, you’ll still need to appear before the judge to resolve the reason why the bench warrant was issued. The only difference is that you do not have to remain in police custody while you wait for a decision on your case.

When you appear in court, the judge may ask questions to determine if you had a good reason for your actions, disobeying the court’s rules or orders. What qualifies as a “good reason” would depend on the circumstances of your case.

For example, if a bench warrant were issued because you failed to appear in court, and you can establish that you were in an accident and sustained injuries that prevented you from attending court, that would likely be accepted as a good reason.

If you fail to explain your actions, you could face serious sanctions, including jail time and payment of fines. Suppose you were already facing criminal charges and were out on bail before the bench warrant was issued. In that case, the stakes are higher, and you could be made to remain in police custody until the criminal case is concluded.

As such, you must prepare to defend yourself diligently and show the court that you had no intention of undermining its authority. An experienced criminal defense attorney will help you present your case in the best light possible and increase your chances of a favorable outcome.

What to Do if a Bench Warrant Has Been Issued Against You

 

Bench warrants in Illinois don’t expire. They remain active until they are executed or the issuing judge cancels them. Therefore, if you’re aware or suspect that there’s an outstanding bench warrant against you, you need to take steps to resolve the issue immediately. Here are some steps to consider:

  1. Contact an Attorney: As mentioned earlier, a bench warrant is not something you can ignore and hope will go away on its own. You need the assistance of an  Illinois criminal defense lawyer who knows how Illinois courts work and what your options are.

  2. Surrender: If you believe there’s a bench warrant out for your arrest, you can contact the court and make arrangements to surrender yourself so that the warrant is vacated or canceled. With your attorney’s help, you may also get a favorable bond agreement that allows you to stay out of police custody while awaiting resolution of your case.

  3. Attend All Court Dates: This goes without saying – once a bench warrant has been issued against you, ensure you do not miss any future court dates or hearings. Always appear in court when required and do your best to comply with all orders issued by the judge. Doing so can help you avoid more severe consequences and show the court that you are taking your legal matters seriously.

  4. Follow Court Instructions: If you have been ordered to complete specific tasks, such as community service or attending counseling sessions, make sure you do so promptly and fully. Failure to comply with these orders could result in further consequences and potentially lead to a new bench warrant being issued against you.

If you are already facing criminal charges, there’s a chance that an outstanding bench warrant could increase the severity of your charges. It could also make the judge less lenient when deciding on the punishment if you’re found guilty of the original charges.

An Experienced Criminal Defense Lawyer can defend you throughout your trial and fight to ensure your freedom regardless of the bench warrant’s impact (if any). They can also assist you in resolving your bench warrant issue and minimizing its effect on your case. It’s crucial to seek legal help as soon as possible to avoid additional penalties or negative repercussions.

Contact Experienced Criminal Defense Lawyers at Hirsch Law Group Today

 

A bench warrant is as effective as an arrest or search warrant and should never be ignored. If one has been issued against you, it is essential to take appropriate action to address the warrant and avoid further legal complications.

At Hirsch Law Group, we understand the consequences of an outstanding bench warrant in Illinois. With our experience, we can provide the legal counsel and guidance you need to resolve the situation and avoid the harsh penalties associated with Illinois warrants.

Our fierce Chicago Felony Lawyer can also represent you if you are facing felony or criminal charges in Illinois and work to ensure a positive outcome in your case.

Contact us today to schedule a free initial consultation and discuss your case.

 

Frequently Asked Questions

 

How Do I Know If There’s an Outstanding Warrant Against Me?

When a warrant is issued in Illinois, details of the warrant are usually posted across various federal, state, and local websites. If you suspect a warrant has been issued against you, you can search your local county sheriff’s office website or the website of the county where you suspect the warrant was issued for confirmation.

 

How Long Does a Bench Warrant Last in Illinois?

In Illinois, bench warrants do not have an expiration date. This means they can remain active indefinitely until you are arrested or turn yourself in to address the warrant. It is important to note that even if a significant amount of time has passed since the warrant was issued, it does not mean that it is no longer valid.

 

Can a Police Officer Arrest Me for an Outstanding Bench Warrant?

Yes, if there is an active bench warrant against you, a police officer can arrest you anytime. If arrested, you may be granted bail after posting a cash bond, depending on the nature of the warrant and your criminal history. Otherwise, you could be detained until you appear before a judge. It is always best to address outstanding warrants promptly to avoid such situations.