Are you concerned there may be a bench warrant for your arrest in the Greater Denver Area? If so, do you know the difference between a traditional arrest warrant and a bench warrant? Since a lot of people don’t fully understand bench warrants and why they’re issued, I’m going to shed light on the matter.
A bench warrant is a type of arrest warrant that is issued by a judge and usually after a criminal defendant fails to do something they were expected to do – like show up in court. Essentially, if a defendant fails to appear in court, the judge will automatically issue a warrant for the person’s arrest.
Once a bench warrant is issued, it acts just like any other arrest warrant. The police can look for the defendant, arrest him or her, and bring them before the judge.
For example, suppose a bench warrant is issued and the defendant is pulled over for speeding in a routine traffic stop. Once the officer runs the driver’s license information, the warrant would pop up and the officer would arrest the driver on the spot. From there, the driver would be detained and brought before the judge to answer for their “failure to appear.”
Traditional Arrest Warrants
A traditional arrest warrant is different than a bench warrant because it is initiated by a police officer or detective instead of a judge. Let's say a man’s home was burglarized while he was on vacation, but his security system caught the burglary on tape.
Since the man didn’t find out about the burglary until a week after it occurred, the suspect was long gone. After police officers investigated the scene, the case was transferred to a detective in the department for further investigation.
The detective’s investigation proved fruitful and now he wants to make an arrest. However, he’s going to need an arrest warrant first. So, he’s going to ask the judge to sign off on an arrest warrant. If the judge feels there is sufficient evidence of a crime, the judge will issue a warrant for the suspect’s arrest.
From there, the police will try to make an arrest in the least dangerous way possible. Often, the police will try to arrest a suspect in the middle of the night, or early in the morning when he’s dead asleep and his guard is down.
Are Arrest Warrants Always Necessary?
If a crime is committed in an officer’s presence, or if a suspect is in a suspicious place immediately following a crime, or if it’s clear that a domestic dispute just occurred, then an officer has every right to arrest a suspect and take them into custody.
Often, an arrest warrant is issued when a detective has been quietly building a case against a suspect in what is called a “pre-file investigation,” and once they convince the state to prosecute, they will seek an arrest warrant from a judge. That’s arrest warrants in a nutshell.
Do you have reason to believe you’re a target of a police investigation? If so, contact my firm to speak with a Denver criminal defense lawyer!