Bench Warrants

Failure to Appear in a Criminal Case

A Pennsylvania Criminal Lawyer Explains Your Legal Rights in Bench Warrant Cases

There are many reasons a person may be issued a bench warrant in Pennsylvania. If you were charged with a crime or DUI and did not appear at your hearing or show up for a court date, there could be a bench warrant issued for your immediate arrest. If you failed to pay any court-issued fines, fees, or child support, or if you failed to comply with a court order, such as community service or DUI class, you could also have a bench warrant out for your arrest.

There are many, many reasons a person may miss a court date, including not knowing when it was scheduled, not receiving the court papers, medical reasons, accidents, etc. But ignoring a bench warrant is a bad idea, as it could mean you can be arrested and taken to jail at any time – if you get pulled over at a traffic stop or have any interactions with a government official, you will be arrested. It is very stressful to live knowing there is a bench warrant out there with your name on it.

How Do I Get a Bench Warrant Lifted in Pennsylvania?

If you are unsure whether there is a bench warrant out for your arrest (in Chesco and Southeastern Pennsylvania), you can call our criminal attorneys and we will look up your charges and provide a free consultation. We can also help you with surrendering and getting the bench warrant lifted, avoiding additional penalties.

We can also help you fight your criminal charges and try to get your charges dropped or your sentence reduced to a minimum. Our Chesco Criminal Lawyers are experienced, savvy, and knowledgeable. We have successfully litigated many criminal cases and helped people fight for their rights.

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Resolving and Lifting Bench Warrants in Pennsylvania

If you were arrested for a crime in Chester County, PA, or face DUI charges, you are required to appear at court hearings. Failure to show up to the hearing or pre-trial conference may cause the court to issue a bench warrant for your arrest. This is true for summary cases, misdemeanors, and any felony charges.

Many people have all sorts of reasons for missing hearings and court dates, including car accidents, health issues, childcare, a mix-up of dates, etc. However, the court does not take this into account and can still issue a bench warrant for your arrest.

If you have a bench warrant issued for your arrest, the best thing to do is contact a criminal attorney right away who can help in surrendering and even get the bench warrant lifted and a new hearing date set.

If you let a bench warrant go until you are arrested, you may face additional penalties on top of existing criminal charges and extra fines. It may also make it more challenging to have a positive outcome for your case. For instance, if your original charges involve a misdemeanor, you could be charged with another second-degree misdemeanor for failure to appear. If the charges are from a felony, you could be charged with another third-degree felony charge for failure to appear.

In several cases, if an experienced criminal attorney can negotiate terms of a surrender, the District Attorney will recommend the bench warrant be lifted and you will not have to go to jail. This is why it is important to have a criminal lawyer on your side who is fighting for you.

You can read more about the legalities of bench warrants under PA Code Rule 1910.13-1. Failure or Refusal to Appear Pursuant to Order of Court Bench Warrant.

Don’t Let a Bench Warrant Cause Your Arrest

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What Should I Do if I am Issued a Bench Warrant?

If you think a bench warrant has been issued, try to have it resolved immediately. You can contact the court and try to make arrangements to reschedule any court dates or resolve any fines, etc. However, this does not necessarily mean the bench warrant will be lifted.

It is best to contact a criminal attorney who can schedule a court appearance for you and try to negotiate with the District Attorney, explaining the situation and that you are willing to appear for a new court hearing. The sooner your attorney can contact the court to rectify the situation, the better the chances the warrant will be withdrawn and the less severe the penalties.

What Happens if I am Arrested on a Bench Warrant?

If your bench warrant goes unresolved and you end up getting arrested, you will be held in police custody until your court appearance. This can be a long wait for some people, especially if you are arrested on a Friday evening, but in most cases, if you are arrested in the same county as the issued bench warrant, you will not be detained for more than 72 hours.

However, if you are arrested out of state under a bench warrant, you would wait weeks or even months before being extradited.

You may face additional fines and penalties and being arrested on a bench warrant may make it tougher to win in court against your original charges. Depending on the nature of the crime and circumstances, you may face tougher sentencing and an increase in bail.

Once you are brought before the court, the warrant will be lifted, but there will also be a hearing to decide whether you will be released or detained in jail, pending another hearing. It is at this point where a cash bail may be set, but it is the judge’s discretion whether you will be released or not.

If you are arrested on a bench warrant, call an experienced criminal attorney right away who is skilled at handling bench warrant cases.

Don’t Let a Bench Warrant Cause Your Arrest

Call Criminal Attorney Wana Saadzoi 
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Delaware County, PA | Chester County, PA | Montgomery County, PA

Why Are Bench Warrants Issued?

There are many reasons a person may have a bench warrant issued for their arrest, including the following:

  • Failure to appear in court for a scheduled court date, such as a preliminary hearing, pre-trial conference, or when subpoenaed;
  • Not paying court-ordered fees or fines or child support payments;
  • Not complying, violating, or not completing court-ordered services such as DUI classes, community service, or rehabilitation;
  • Failure to appear as a witness;
  • Violating probation or parole, and;
  • Violating a restraining order.

Bench Warrants under Pennsylvania Law

PA law states that a judge can issue a bench warrant within 60 days of the failure to appear in court, but this is only if the person receives notice of the scheduled court appearance.

According to PA Code Rule 1910.13-1, a person only has actual notice of the court appearance if they:

  • Are served by the postal service with delivery confirmation;
  • Signed a receipt indicating acceptance of the court order;
  • Received the court order from an employee or the court, or;
  • Received the court order from a police officer or other third party such as a private server.

You could face additional penalties for failure to appear for a court hearing in Pennsylvania, especially if the original charges were from a misdemeanor or felony.

How Can Our Chesco Bench Warrant Lawyers Help?

Everyone makes mistakes and a lot of people get overwhelmed and fearful by having to go to court and they may shut down and avoid the responsibility altogether. But it’s not too late to get back on track and doing so could mean a better outcome down the road.

The criminal attorneys at Saadzoi Law have helped many people get make the best decisions for themselves and their families by guiding them through a scary ordeal. We want our clients to succeed and we will work with you to understand your case fully in order to help get the bench warrant lifted and or fight any other criminal charges.

There are several defenses to bench warrants in Pennsylvania, including health issues, emergency medical care, and not receiving “actual notice” of the court date. If these defenses are not possible, it is still always possible to negotiate with the District Attorney about lifting the warrant and simply rescheduling the court appearance. Merely having gone through a criminal lawyer to surrender is a first step in showing the court you can be trusted to appear at the next scheduled hearing. Whatever your unique circumstances are, we can help.

Attorney Saadzoi has spent time on both sides of the law as a prosecutor and a public defender. As your lawyer, she will work aggressively to have your sentence reduced or charges dropped altogether.

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The Law Offices of Wana Saadzoi, Esquire LLC – Chester County PA
600 Eagleview Blvd, Suite 300
Exton, PA 19341

Delco, PA | Chesco, PA | Montco, PA

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