A bench warrant is typically issued by a judge once a defendant fails to appear in court. These warrants are primarily issued by criminal magistrates, though they may also be issued in certain civil complaints. Bench warrants can cause significant problems, and getting them lifted, or dropped, requires you to take specific steps.
Get Legal Advice
Once a bench warrant is issued after a failure to appear before court, the only way to have the warrant lifted is to go before the judge. If you don't have an attorney, it may be worth taking some legal advice. An attorney or free legal clinic may be able to get the warrant lifted by explaining the circumstances around your failure to appear to the judge and appearing in court on your behalf.
Turn Yourself in to Law Enforcement
A bench warrant allows any law enforcement officer in the jurisdiction to arrest you and bring you before the tribunal. To get the warrant lifted on your own, you will have to appear before the judge yourself. Turning yourself in is one way to get yourself in front of the judge sooner rather than later.
Appear Before the Court
The judge or magistrate issuing the bench warrant maintains jurisdiction over your case for as long as the warrant is in effect. Whether you have an attorney or not, you must be able to explain your behavior. A court can impose criminal penalties for a failure to appear, including fines and incarceration. If you have a good reason why you were unable to appear in court, explain this to the judge at the hearing. If the court accepts your reasons, it will reschedule your court date at another time. If not, you may be taken into custody or levied a fine.