Today I received a call from a potential client who said that a bench warrant was issued for him because he failed to show the court proof of enrollment of his DUI class following his conviction. He wanted to know what this meant.
There are two types of warrants issued by judges. The first is an arrest warrant. A judge will issue an arrest warrant if there is probable cause to believe that a person committed a crime and that the person named in the warrant is the person involved in the crime. Once issued, law enforcement can go to your home or place of work and take you into custody.
The second type of warrant, and the warrant more commonly associated with DUI charges, is the bench warrant. A judge will issue a bench warrant when a person fails to appear in court or do something that the court orders him or her to do. In my potential client’s case, the judge ordered him to show proof of enrollment into a first time DUI offender class (otherwise known as AB-541) by a certain date. For whatever reason, he could not enroll and show proof of enrollment by that date. The judge issued a bench warrant.
If a bench warrant is issued and you are subsequently pulled over by law enforcement for a traffic violation, they must take you into custody.
In my experience, bench warrants are issued after the client simply forgot to go to court for proof of completion of DUI probation terms. Often, this is because completion dates are set far in advance after the person pled guilty and the DUI probation terms imposed them.
If someone has a bench warrant for any of these reasons, it would be a good idea to contact an attorney ASAP to go to court and request that the warrant be recalled and quashed. “Quashed” is the legal term for invalidating a warrant. If the judge is having a good day and the warrant is quashed, a new date will be set to allow the person to complete whatever it is that the person needed to complete.