Bench Warrants

What is an Alias Capias?

If you missed a court appearance and the clerk's office can verify that you were properly notified, a bench warrant (misdemeanor case) or an alias capias (felony case) will be issued by the court. Depending on several factors, such as type of case, ties to the community and criminal record, the warrant can range from hundreds of dollars to thousands of dollars. Should you get stopped by a police officer and there is an outstanding alias capias warrant or probation violation warrant for your arrest, you will most likely be taken into custody and held without any bond while you await trial on your case.

Other types of misdemeanor bench warrants are usually issued with a set bond amount—meaning that if you are taken into custody because of an outstanding warrant, you can pay the amount of the bond in order to be released from jail. Misdemeanor bench warrants can be issued for failing to appear at an arraignment, a trial date, or any other related hearing, and will remain active until the matter is resolved.

Many people think that if they fail to take care of a bench warrant that in time it will go away, but the truth is that it will remain on their record until the matter is handled. When applying for a loan, a job, a professional license, or even social security benefits, an active bench warrant may prohibit someone from obtaining any of these. Law enforcement has the right to arrest you at home, at your workplace or any other public or private place.

A bench warrant is slightly different than an arrest warrant. An arrest warrant is an order issued by a judge to arrest an individual or search/seize their property. The difference is in the way in which a person can be arrested. A bench warrant authorizes an “on-the-spot” arrest. These can be issued in both criminal and civil courts. Bench warrants also differ if the individual was on bail at the time they failed to appear in court. Likely, a higher bail will then be set and the next time the person appears in court, they are at a higher risk for getting their possibility of bail removed.

Understanding Probation Violations

You may have a warrant out for your arrest due to the violation of your probation for a number of reasons. This may complicate the processing of your case and lead to additional fines and even jail time. In many cases, people are not even aware that a bench warrant exists until they speak to an attorney, who in most cases can make the determination of if and when a warrant was issued.

It is quite common for a person to miss a court appearance when they change their address and fail to notify the clerk's office of such, or if they just did not realize that their appearance in court was necessary. The clerk's office sends the notice for a court appearance only to the address on record and if that notice can be verified in court, a bench warrant or alias capias (felony cases) is almost always issued.

Those who miss court appearances are typically viewed as “flight risks” and have harsher penalties placed on them. The truth is, there are many reasons why an individual would fail to appear in court on their designated date. Our firm exists to ensure that justice is served and that no unjust punishment is served to our clients who missed their hearing.

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