How to Expunge a Bench Warrant

By April Johnson

Bench warrants can be troublesome and can lead to further legal entanglements. But, if the alleged offender takes the time to clear the matter up through the court system the resulting record can be expunged.

Definitions

A bench warrant is an order issued by a Federal or State court or judge and is enforced by the local police department. The order requires the immediate arrest of a person for failure to appear in court on a scheduled day and time. Outstanding warrants can result in denial of civil liberties ranging from the loss of one's driving privileges to denial of bail if one is arrested during a period where multiple warrants remain in force. Thus, upon discovering that a bench warrant has been issued, it is very important to appear before the issuing court immediately, preferably with an attorney. If the violation invoking the bench warrant is subsequently dismissed or the alleged offender is not convicted, chances are record of the warrant can be expunged.

Each state differs as to what an expungement is, however, in general it is the sealing or destroying of a criminal record which removes such record from public view. This can be particularly useful because once the record has been successfully expunged the matter does not have to be disclosed to anyone including potential employers, landlords or educational institutions.

Qualifications

If your case was dismissed, you were found innocent, you didn't go to trial, you were not prosecuted, you received deferred/withheld adjudication (a plea bargain whereby final judgment is deferred or withheld pending the outcome of a probation period), or you received a deferred sentence you immediately qualify for an expunged record of a matter adjudicated in the following states:

California Colorado Connecticut Florida Georgia Illinois Maryland Michigan Minnesota New Jersey, New Mexico New Your North Carolina Ohio Oklahoma Oregon Rhode Island and Providence Plantations South Carolina Texas Washington Wisconsin Wyoming

Process

Obtaining an expungement requires the filing of a petition with the court of jurisdiction. The petition must state the reason for the request and how the petitioner meets the criteria for such relief under the law. If the court finds that the petitioner indeed meets the criteria an expungement is generally granted.

Once the order expunging the matter is signed, proceed to notify criminal background check companies and local, state and national databases to remove the offending history from public records. The result will be as if the matter never happened.

Length of Process

How long it takes to have a record expunged depends primarily on how busy the court dockets are in the state and county where the warrant was issued.

About the Author

April Johnson is a single mother of 2 small children. She has two advanced degrees and is well-versed in family matters, sibling interactions, relationships, children, and has extensive experience in finance, taxation and legal issues. She enjoys reading, yoga, various styles of music and both indoor and outdoor activities.

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