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Illinois Bench Warrants

What Is an Illinois Bench Warrant?

You may be tempted not to show up at your court date after committing a minor offense or may have forgotten about it. Whatever the case, missing a court date may result in the judge issuing a bench warrant against you.

A presiding judge issues bench warrants after you fail to appear on your court date. It permits law enforcement officers to arrest you on sight. It may be issued in the following circumstances:

  • When you fail to appear for your arraignment, trial, or any other court date.

  • When you fail to pay your court fine on time.

  • When you fail to obey a court order or adhere to a probation provision.

  • When you fail to pay a traffic citation.

A bench warrant is not subject to the statute of limitations. Unless a judge recalls or quashes the warrant, it will remain active until the subject dies. If you find out a bench warrant has been issued against you, you may consider speaking to a criminal defense lawyer at the Hirsch Law Group immediately.

How Does a Bench Warrant Work?

A bench warrant empowers the police officers or sheriff’s deputies to arrest you, day or night. Once arrested, they will transport you to court so that you can explain why you missed your court date.

If it is a minor offense like a traffic citation, they may issue an order for payment of fine. But if it is a serious offense, such as failing to appear for trial on criminal charges, the judge may impose sanctions against you. These sanctions may include:

  • Revocation of your bond.

  • Issuing a new, higher bond.

  • Issuing an arrest warrant against you.

  • Denying future bail on the same charge.

Apart from these sanctions, you may also face additional charges for failing to appear in court. These charges can range from a misdemeanor to a felony, depending on the original offense and circumstances surrounding your failure to appear.


Types of Warrants in Illinois

Illinois courts may issue different types of warrants depending on the circumstances of the case. The most common warrants are:

Arrest Warrants

A police officer may request an Illinois arrest warrant if they have probable cause to believe that an individual has committed an offense. If the judge signs the arrest warrant, the police will begin to look for the suspect. Once they find the suspect, they will execute the warrant and arrest the suspect.

Search Warrants

A judge issues an Illinois search warrant to permit a police officer to search a particular place or thing. The police officer makes the request using a search warrant affidavit. After the court grants the warrant, the officer may lawfully enter the place to search.

They must knock and announce themselves before entering the place. They can break down the door and enter if they are not allowed inside. Any illegal items inside the place may be seized and used as a basis for any charges.

Federal Warrants

Federal investigative agencies may request a federal court judge to issue a federal arrest warrant if they suspect you have committed a federal crime. Hiring a Chicago federal criminal defense lawyer may prevent the warrant from being issued.

Are Bench Warrants Public Record in Illinois?

According to the Court of Clerk’s Act, all court records, including warrants, are public records in Illinois. Therefore, bench warrants can be made public records. Illinois’ Freedom of Information Act also permits warrants to be made public because they are government records.

Illinois warrants may be maintained along with other criminal records in Illinois criminal records. State and local law enforcement manage these criminal records.

Consequences of Bench Warrants

After a judge issues a bench warrant, the police officer will treat the bench warrant as an arrest warrant. If they arrest you, they will bring you to court to face your charges. This may prevent you from going to public places due to a fear of arrest. Your arrest may happen immediately or could take months, depending on the circumstances of the case.

A bench warrant may also affect your ability to travel on international flights. You will be flagged by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and unable to pass through airport security checkpoints.

Additionally, the court may notify the Illinois Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) of the warrant. After receiving the notification, the DMV may suspend your driving privileges.

Illinois Warrant Search

You can find out if there are any active warrants against you by conducting an Illinois warrant search. The search may be conducted through the following means:

  • By making an inquiry at the Illinois Police Department

  • By searching through the county and sheriff department’s records

  • By using third-party websites

Once a warrant is issued, it is recorded in the Illinois criminal justice system. Therefore contacting a police station is an easy way to conduct a warrant search. You may also visit the Illinois State Police website to inspect the wanted persons’ list. The Illinois State Police will generally not provide your criminal information if you have not been convicted.

Another way to find a warrant is to search the county court or sheriff’s department website for outstanding bench warrants. Several counties in Illinois have fully functional web platforms to communicate with the public. These records contain criminal records, including outstanding arrest warrants.

Third-party websites maintain records of warrants issued in different jurisdictions. You may access these records on available websites. But remember, results appearing on these websites may vary compared to the ones found in government-backed sources.

Can a Bench Warrant Be Recalled?

A judge may recall your bench warrant depending on the seriousness of your charges and the time it took you to appear in court. You may appear in court after your court date to request a recall. But, you must provide a reasonable explanation as to why you failed to appear. This may include a medical emergency, an honest mistake, or an unfortunate circumstance.

If you have multiple warrants, the courts are less likely to recall the warrant. If the court accepts your explanation and recalls your warrant, the judge will schedule a new court date. Care should be taken not to miss this new court date. In addition, a failure to obey the court’s orders may result in harsher fines and sentences after conviction.

Contact a Criminal Defense Attorney at the Hirsch Law Group

To resolve a bench warrant, you may choose a criminal defense attorney to represent you in court. At the Hirsch Law Group, we can review your court papers, look at your summons, and prepare an argument to present to the judge.

Our attorneys can use their understanding of warrants to prepare a reasonable explanation for why you failed to appear. They may also give the judge other reasons to recall the bench warrant.

If you believe you may have a bench warrant issued against you, consider contacting our law office immediately. Our experienced and empathetic lawyers will conduct a free initial consultation with you to understand the facts and unique circumstances of your case. Call us today!