Bench Warrant Florida
A bench warrant is a warrant issued by a judge for a defendant’s arrest when a defendant fails to appear for a scheduled court date. The lawyers at Bottari & Doyle realize that people miss court dates for all kinds of reasons; illness, lack of notice, emergency, or because he or she simply forgot to show up for court. It is important to know that when a bench warrant exists for a defendant’s arrest, the defendant is subject to arrest by a police officer at any time.
Florida Statute 843.15 – Failure of Defendant on Bail to Appear
Florida Statute 843.15 states:
Whoever, having been released pursuant to chapter 903, willfully fails to appear before any court or judicial officer as required shall incur a forfeiture of any security which was given or pledged for her or his release and, in addition shall:
- If she or he was released in connection with a charge of felony or while awaiting sentence or pending review by certiorari after conviction of any offense, be guilty of a felony of the third degree, or;
- If she or he was released in connection with a charge of misdemeanor, be guilty of a misdemeanor of the first degree.
Nothing in this section shall interfere with or prevent the exercise by any court of its power to punish for contempt.
What happens when a judge issues a Bench Warrant?
A bench warrant provides police officers with the authority to arrest the defendant at any time. Also, the judge will estreat (forfeit or take) the bond on the underlying criminal charge, at the time the judge signs the warrant.
This is why it is imperative to retain a criminal defense attorney who has the ability to file the proper motion with the court to cancel the warrant and bond estreature (taking of the bond).
What happens if a Defendant chooses to ignore a Bench Warrant?
It is foolish for a defendant to not address a bench warrant, because eventually he or she will be arrested. Additionally, the prosecutor on the original case may seek harsher penalties, because the defendant failed to appear for court.
At Bottari & Doyle, we will be able to file the correct motion with the court to ask the judge to cancel the bench warrant so that you can get on with your life.
Is failing to appear for court a separate crime?
Yes, although we have never actually seen a prosecutor charge a defendant with failing to appear for court. To convict, a prosecutor would have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant had notice of the court date and willfully failed to appear. It would be very difficult to prove willfulness for many reasons.
If a judge issued a Bench Warrant for your arrest in Broward County, Palm Beach County, Martin County or Dade County, call the
Palm Beach criminal defense attorneys from Bottari & Doyle at (561)-588-2781 for a free consultation.