Bench Warrant Definition and Legal Meaning

On this page, you'll find the legal definition and meaning of Bench Warrant, written in plain English, along with examples of how it is used.

What is Bench Warrant?

(n) Bench Warrant is the order issued by bench constituted to hear a case authorizing the law enforcement officer to arrest a person or attach a property to enforce legal compliances

History and Meaning of Bench Warrant

A bench warrant is an order issued by a judge that authorizes law enforcement to arrest a person who has failed to appear in court, or who has violated the terms of their release or probation. The term "bench" comes from the courtroom furniture, or "bench," behind which the judge sits.

The purpose of a bench warrant is to ensure that the defendant appears in court to face the charges against them. It is also used to enforce compliance with court orders, such as paying fines or attending drug treatment programs. Once a bench warrant is issued, law enforcement officers may arrest the defendant and bring them before the court.

Examples of Bench Warrant

  • If a defendant fails to appear in court for their scheduled hearing, the judge may issue a bench warrant for their arrest.

  • A bench warrant may be issued if a defendant violates the terms of their probation, such as failing a drug test or leaving the state without permission.

  • If a defendant fails to pay a court-ordered fine, a bench warrant may be issued to compel them to appear in court and address the issue.

Legal Terms Similar to Bench Warrant

  • Arrest warrant: A warrant issued by a judge authorizing the arrest of a person suspected of committing a crime.

  • Search warrant: A warrant issued by a judge authorizing law enforcement officers to search a specific location for evidence related to a crime.

  • Subpoena: A court order requiring a person to appear in court or produce evidence in a legal proceeding.

  • Contempt of court: Willful disobedience of a court order or disrespect shown to a judge, which may result in fines or imprisonment.