What Is a Body Attachment Warrant in Indiana?

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A writ of attachment of a person in the state of Indiana requires a sheriff or assisting sheriff to seize a person, hold them in custody and bring them directly to the court that issued the writ. At that time, the court will set a bond amount that the person must pay for their immediate release. The court issues a writ of attachment when someone misses a court date or fails to make child support payments.

What Is a Writ of Attachment?

To procure personal jurisdiction over someone in contempt of court or who has violated a court order, a court will issue a writ of attachment, also called a writ of body attachment or bench warrant. It is a court order directed at a sheriff or assisting sheriff to arrest that person and hold them in custody. The writ allows law enforcement to wait at a person's home or workplace to arrest them, but the arresting officer cannot enter the premises. It is not an arrest for a crime – it is an action to seize a person and bring them to the court that issued the warrant.

Once the person is taken into custody in a civil action, they must come before the court that issued the writ or before a judicial officer having jurisdiction over them within 48 hours of their being taken into custody. This time excludes weekends and holidays.

Consequences for Ignoring a Writ of Attachment

A person who has received a writ of attachment should not ignore it. In some cases, people go on the run, and when they are found, the consequences of their actions are much more severe than if they had appeared in court per the writ.

If the court dispatches law enforcement officers to find a person, they may get hurt or killed in the process, or their residence can be damaged. After receiving a writ of bodily attachment, a person's best option is to turn themselves in to the local authorities.

After Issuance of a Writ Attachment

Indiana law states that the court will set a fixed amount in criminal matters that the person must post for their immediate release. If a person owes child support, they must deposit that money with the court clerk into an escrow account to be released immediately. Whatever amount the court sets, it will at least cover the amount of child support owed.

Once the person is brought before the court, they must show good reason for violating their obligation to appear or pay child support. If the judge believes that they have practiced willful obstruction of the court's business, they can hold the person in direct contempt. Indiana law states that contempt of court is punishable by fines, imprisonment or both.

Court Hearing to Remove a Writ of Attachment

Even if the person fulfills the court's requirements, they may not be immediately released. All parties have to approve their release, and there may be more than one court involved. This means nothing will happen until all courts involved in the case receive notification of that person's fulfillment of their obligation.

If the person wishes to remove a writ of body attachment, they must file a motion with the court for a hearing. This brings their case before a judge who receives notification that a person has not been released despite fulfilling the court's requirements. The court then decides if it will remove the writ of attachment or if some outstanding elements still need addressing by other authorities.