It happens. You never received your court summons in the mail. Or you needed to go to work, or drop off the kids. Maybe you were just plain scared! At any rate, you failed to appear at your court date – and now there’s a warrant out for your arrest. This guide explains how to quash the warrant.
CONTACT & HIRE AN ATTORNEY
A bench warrant signed by a judge authorizes the police to find, arrest and incarcerate you for missing a scheduled court date. Naturally, judges are offended when defendants miss court dates. For that reason, and if possible, seek an attorney who regularly practices in the court which issued the warrant. The attorney’s relationships with the prosecutor, judge, court staff and probation (if necessary) may pay dividends.
ATTORNEY CONTACTS THE COURT
In some cases – municipal courts, for example – a qualified attorney can appear on your behalf and quash the bench warrant without your presence. This outcome depends on local court rules, your job/residence in relation to the charging jurisdiction and your attorney’s good relationships with the court/prosecutor. In most cases, however, the appropriate procedure is for the attorney to file their Notice of Appearance, “Note Up” a hearing on the appropriate calendar and attend the hearing with you, the defendant. If you live far away from court, your attorney might be able to arrange a telephonic hearing with you and the judge during the warrant quash calendar. Be ready to explain your failure to appear.
EXPLAIN YOUR REASONS FOR MISSING COURT
Life happens. Unavoidable events and unforeseeable circumstances get in the way of important events like court dates. Regardless of whether you were unavoidably detained or just didn’t go that day, you need to be honest about your reasons for failing to appear. And be honest with your attorney, so he can accurately advise you about your options. For example, one option might be to actually show up at your warrant quashing hearing with enough money to cover any bail the Court may impose. Although this is a “worst-case-scenario” prediction, being prepared for the worst might avoid you being taken into custody and sitting in a jail cell for hours.
ATTEND ALL FUTURE HEARINGS
You started off on a bad foot – don’t make it worse! From this point forward, your complete focus and attention to court dates is MANDATORY. No mistakes. Equally important, choose your attorney wisely. Along with quashing your bench warrant, your attorney shall probably represent you on the underlying charges themselves. So seek an attorney who is most likely to work hard for the resolution you want; be it reductions, dismissal or jury trial acquittal. Good luck!